Our Times 3

Peter Kulchyski

  • Historical foundations of Aboriginal rights

    Having long ago established himself as a foremost scholarly interlocutor of Canadian Indigenous history, Arthur Ray, with a career that spans those ’70s books on my shelf (two magisterial studies: Indians in the Fur Trade and with Donald Freeman Give Us Good Measure) to new books including Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History, one would have thought he would be happy with what could be called “vanity projects.”

  • Exploring settler-colonial culture

    Lowman and Barker’s Settler really dwells on the dominant culture in Canada as a settler-colonial culture. Hence it is not “about” Indigenous peoples per se, but rather the bad faith of a culture constructed on ongoing colonial dispossessions. It is my own view that we do not yet have a fully developed theory of the specificity of settler colonialism, though such a theory no doubt is coming and can be found in nascent forms in earlier writing on colonialism.

  • First choice for a younger generation

    No doubt for a younger generation of activists, Palmater’s Indigenous Nationhood will be a first choice. Her cadences — and anger — capture the mood of an emerging generation of social justice, broadly Left-oriented, ground level activists. When she writes that one of her goals is to “help us kick the colonizers out of our heads,” (4-5) she puts her finger on an enduring problem within and around Indigenous social movements.

  • Inuit Country

    This year ’s “Indian Country” theme issue of Canadian Dimension deals with a specific group of indigenous people in Canada, the Inuit.

  • Turning the Page on Colonial Oppression

    Since the mainstream Indigenous political organizations have to varying degrees been institutionalized and have a muted role in the actual struggles taking place, it’s thought that a different kind of organization is needed, one that comes from the dissident communities, the communities engaged in direct, non-violent opposition to the state.

  • The Emperor’s Old Clothes

    It’s hard to know where to begin with this book, which purports to be a kind of “expose” of the use of Aboriginal traditional knowledge in policy making and ranges far afield into a critique of the idea of Indigenous rights and a survey of problems in the fields of Aboriginal healthcare, education, self-government, land claims, and so on. I had previously written these authors off as “kooks” from the far political right wing; but now they have been embraced by certain prominent left academics and have themselves started to gloss their opinions with Marxist rhetoric.

  • Toward a New Policy Paradigm for First Peoples

    The current policy paradigm surrounding Aboriginal issues is locked within a very narrow compass of possibility. The two major ideas that emerged in the last decade were the proposals around the Governance Act, rejected by most First Nations leaders, and the Kelowna Accord, endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations, but dead in the water thanks to the current regime.

  • The Violence of the Letter

    The recent struggle over lands in southern Ontario near Caledonia points to the continuing problem with land-claims policy in Canada. This sentence could be used to begin an article every few years, only the place names change: the recent struggle at Grassy Narrows, the recent struggle at Stoney Point, the recent struggle at Oka. While there is a sense in which the current land-claims policy goes back to the beginnings of colonialism in Canada, the recent permutations are worth attention. Any understanding of contemporary conflicts needs to be informed by a strong and detailed sense of what has happened historically, as well as what is happening today.

  • The Wolf Has Begun to Howl

    Ovide has sauntered off to get some ducks. The rest of us sit and chat, idly, nurturing the fire and snacking on bannock. A few jokes are tossed around: Mayor Robbie Buck, a large man with a quick wit, keeps everyone’s spirits high. Although when we hear shots a few comments about whether the Chief has injured himself are tossed around, no one is surprised when he returns with two ducks for two shots. The duck soup I’m eating, it turns out, comes from the Chief’s catch the day before.

  • Personal Dimension: Bush/Life

    My life follows the well-worn trail “poor boy makes good,” a cliché so saturated in ideology that to try and disentangle it from the comfort it may offer to those who naively believe ours is a meritorious society remains to this day as much a challenge for me as actually indulging in the narcissism of telling the story.

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