Brief to the Special Committee of the House of Commons on Indian Self-Government

Year Published:  1983  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX2828

Abstract:  The Associaiton of Iroquois and Allied Indians is a non-profit corporation representing eight Ontario Indian Bands. Part of the history of these bands is a "regrettable pattern of land dealings with Government....history has shown us that white governments have regarded our lands, our culture and our special relationship with the Crown as a temporary expedient. The 1969 White Paper merely proved to other Canadians, who do not know our history, the truth of what we have always known: The Indian Act is dedicated to the subservience of our rights under arbitrary authority and to the enfranchisement of as many off our people as possible. The failure of the Act to accomplish that goal has not resulted in any change in its basic framework; our people and our Councils are treated like transients."

In its BRIEF TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON INDIAN SELF-GOVERNMENT, the association sets out its views and concerns about self-government, and asks that Committee members recognize that "we will be faithful to our culture and to our history, that we are capable of managing our affairs and our futre."

The Association recommends that "any new form of Indian government be based on a clear model that deals with management, regulation, supervision accoutability, individual rights, voting, dissent, procedures, etc. Our Bands will consider adopting certain features of corporations, but we will not incorporate." The Indian government would be the Board of directors; Band members would be shareholders having a common interest in the assets of the Band. Included must be "an accounting to Indian Bands by government as well as Indian Bands to government" -- this includes political, legal and fiscal accountability.

The association takes the position that Constitutional recognition of "the aboriginal peoples of Canada" puts the determination of Indian status "beyond the reach of Parliament." Any person who is Constitutionally an Indian will then have Indian status, whether or not that individual is a Band member.

With regard to Lands and Resouces, the Associaiton points out that "most, if not all, problems relating to reserve and surrendered lands stem from the fact that the bare legal title to these lands lies with the Crown, either federal or provincial, while the possession, use and benefit lie with Indian Bands." The BRIEF recommends that "either a special 'Reserve Title' be granted to Indian governments or that they be statutorily empowered to deal iwth the title of the Crown," and that Indian governments be empowered to codify the land management practices they have follwed or with to follow and that the discretionay powers of the Minister be abolished."

The BRIEF contains further recommendations on fiscal stability, estates and future role of the Deparment of Indian and Nothern Affairs.

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