Left and Right

Marxism and the Aboriginal Question: The Tragedy of Progress

By David Bedford

The North Star

This article originally published in the Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 1994. It is republished with permission; formatted for the web by North Star.

Bird and Fish, Jackson Beardy1This paper will deal, in a preliminary way, with one of the least studied areas in Marxist thought, the “Aboriginal question.” It is becoming increasingly clear that the desire of Aboriginal peoples for self-determination, expressed in the agitation for self-government, will not disappear. It is unlikely that the desire to preserve culture, and to resist any further encroachment by industry or by the modern state, will be articulated in any other political form than self-government. The overwhelming rejection of the Charlottetown proposals for self-government by Aboriginal peoples,1 in the face of their acceptance by the leadership of four major Aboriginal organizations (the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Council of Canada, the Métis and the Inuit Tapirisat) indicates that there is little agreement over what self-government should entail. However, despite these powerful disagreements, few in the various Aboriginal communities located in the northern half of that land mass which many Aboriginal people call Turtle Island dispute the need for self-determination.


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