Thursday, September 2, 2010

Property rights to reserves

I'll do him one better:

Some native chiefs are worried that the government’s goal is to bring property rights to the native reserves. So far the limited amount of property rights that has been introduced to some reserves has led to marked improvements in the reserve’s economy and standard of living. So why on Earth would the native leadership oppose something that is improving the lives of their people?

Their publicized reasoning is that property rights would ultimately lead to assimilation. They are keen to protect their ‘traditional way of life,’ but a tradition is only as good as it is beneficial to the people. A tradition that impoverishes is a tradition that is better off being gotten rid of.

To be quite frank, it's not that their "traditional way of life" impoverishes, although that is a point in favour of abolishing it. No, the traditional way of life that they are expounding doesn't exist in the current world.

Don't get me wrong, hunting and fishing for meat is very much a way of life on reserve, and something that helps alleviate the poverty found there. Pow-wows and other cultural activities are also alive and well on reserve.

What isn't alive and well is the concept of communal ownership. The reason for this is simple - that may have been the way of life when the various bands were nomadic, moving their villages on a regular basis and believing that no one person can own the land, however that way of life was abandoned when the reserves were set up and the various bands laid claim (and ultimately, ownership) to the land on which they occupied.

In short, the day the chiefs signed their respective treaties with The Grandmother, meanwhile smirking at the white man for giving up something of value for something that the bands did not feel they owned, that was the day that their "communal" way of life began dying a slow death. May the current government put it out of it's misery.

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