Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Last week I posted the second paragraph from the text on "Indian Policy" and Reconstruction (for the full text, click here). Below is the fifth paragraph:

Grant’s peace by choice or force policy occurred in tandem with the demise of the treaty making system. Based on humanitarian concerns regarding the power imbalance between the federal government and tribal leadership negotiating treaty terms, the abandonment of the treaty tradition “was part of a movement to end Indian tribal organization and make Indians wards of the government and ultimately individualized citizens.”8 This change in policy, however, was not the result of reformers’ efforts but the resolution of political conflict between the Senate, the governmental body with which treaty making powers reside, and the House of Representatives, which had to appropriate funds for treaties it had no power to influence. Promising to uphold treaty agreements already in place, the Indian Appropriation Act of 1871 formally ended the long-standing treaty tradition. Despite these formal changes, the practice of acquiring Native approval to formal agreements continued past 1871, although now both houses of Congress were involved in shaping the terms of such arrangements. Operating together, the end of treaty making and the prominent role Christian reformers played in Indian affairs represented considerable changes to federal Indian policy and practice, speeding along the erosion of Native American sovereignty.

In Canada, the federal government proceeded similarly through that statute known as the Indian Act

Today, the Canadian federal government encourages First Nations to exercise symbolic power -- not political economic power. But that, too, can be taken away.

An example of symbolic power is the Canadian twenty dollar bank noteIn 2004, the Liberal government introduced on the "reverse side" of this note an image of a sculpture by Haida Gwaii artist Bill Reid. In 2012, under the Conservative government, the image of Reid's sculpture was replaced with an image of a First World War memorial commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

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