Summary: Aboriginal claims remain a controversial but little understood issue in contemporary Canada. British Columbia has been, and remains, the setting for the most intense and persistent demands by Native people, and also for the strongest and most consistent opposition to Native claims by governments and the non-aboriginal public. Land has been the essential question; the Indians have claimed continuing ownership while the province has steadfastly denied the possibility. ...show moreThis book presents the first comprehensive treatment of the land question in British Columbia and is the first to examine the modern political history of British Columbia Indians. It covers the land question from its very beginnings and gives detailed attention to the most recent court decisions, government policies, land claim developments, and Indian protest blockades. Providing a new interpretation of Governor James Douglas, Paul Tennant views him as less generous to the Indians than have most other historians and demonstrates how Douglas was largely responsible for the future course of the land question. In contrast to what many non-Indians are assuming, the Indians of British Columbia began their land claims at the start of white settlement and persevered despite the massive efforts of missionaries and government officials to suppress Indian culture and despite Parliament's outlawing of claim-related activities. The Indians emerge in this book as political innovators who maintained their identity and ideals and who today have more strength and unity than ever before. The author has conducted extensive interviews with many Indian leaders and has examined the inner workings of government agencies and Indian political organizations. While sympathetic to Native claims, he focuses as much on failures and deficiencies as on strengths and successes.
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