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4a) I've heard that native people themselves can't agree on what they want. Why don't they get their act together first and then deal with the government?

On some things native people agree; on others, there is diversity of opinion reflecting the diversity that exists between Indian nations.

Native peoples are unified in the major goals they want to achieve:

  1. Continued survival as distinct peoples with their own cultural identities intact; and
  2. Relationships with non-natives marked by mutual respect and cooperation.

The exact details of how those goals will be worked out with each nation remain subject to negotiation. Thus, given the diversity, it is neither possible nor of any real help for native people to attempt to negotiate "in a block."

While the exact nature of what constitutes a just settlement will vary for each nation, some politicians and directions have been rejected by nations.

Terry Anderson's article "Indigenous Peoples, the Land, and Self-government" outlines some policies rejected by natives:

  1. Subjection/protection

    Policies or programs which seek to make and keep native people subject to and dependent upon the existing dominant culture group, and second, to preserve and protect native people and their culture as distinct, although dependent people. (colonial policy)

  2. Assimilation

    These are policies or programs which seek the amalgamation of native people economically, and culturally into the mainstream of Canadian life, resulting finally in their disappearance as distinct peoples.

  3. Integration

    The object is not only full participation of native people as equals in mainstream political and economic structures, but also - and here is where this goal is differs from assimilation - maintenance of their distinctive cultural groups. Native people would have no special legal, economic, or political status, but would be regarded as ethnic minority groups alongside other such minority groups. This goal has been called, most recently by Trudeau, a "cultural mosaic," as distinct from the melting-pot image of assimilation.

Native peoples seek no only the recognition and enhancement of their cultural distinctiveness, as in the integration goal, but also control over their own distinctive political structures and economic development.

4b) What are organizations such as the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs about?

Indians have created many organizations to pursue their common interests and to respond to problems engendered by the colonization process.

The Native Brotherhood of B.C. originating in 1931, is one of the oldest. The Union of B.C. Chiefs and United Native Nations have been active mainly at the provincial level while the Assembly of First Nations has played a key role in representing B.C. Indian interests nationally. In 1988, the First Nations Congress was formed in B.C. to provide a forum for discussion about policies and issues of concern to native people. (All of the above-named organizations have staff able to respond to requests for more information.)

"We are separate nations of people just like the Estonians, Lithuanians, Jewish, Polish, etc. We have the inherent right to define what our future will be. What we have in common as Aboriginal People of North America is that we have suffered from the same colonization."

- George Watts, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council