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Posted: February 8th, 2024

To understand the diverse Indigenous ways of knowing and being

Objective: To understand the diverse Indigenous ways of knowing and being, governance structures, and sovereignty issues faced by specific Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Instructions:

This is a group project which will involve recording an oral presentation and submitting its file or streaming link through Moodle. Your group will conduct research and create visual aids (for example, a slideshow or Sway file) to enhance your presentation delivery and recording. It is important that the presentation indicates the contribution of each member of the group.

You will focus on one specific Indigenous nation/people in Canada (for example, Haida, Cree, Mi’kmaq, Red River Métis Nation, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Inuit, and Tlingit.).
Research the Indigenous ways of knowing and being, governance structures, and sovereignty issues faced by the specific nation/people that is the focus of your presentation.
Create a presentation (slideshow, Sway or another software) using visual aids and key information that will allow you to record a presentation between 6 and 8 minutes in length. Cover the following information in your oral delivery and recording:
Overview of the specific Indigenous nation/people in your presentation (name, language, location, etc.)
Explanation of the group’s unique ways of knowing and being (e.g., cultural practices, spirituality, traditions.)
Description of the group’s governance structures and leadership roles within the community (e.g., chiefs, councils, matriarchs)
Analysis of the group’s sovereignty issues (e.g., land rights, land claims, self-determination, treaty rights.)
In your presentation’s conclusions, be sure to reflect on your group’s learning experience during the research process. Comment on the following:
How your understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being, governance, and sovereignty has changed since starting the course;
Why is it important for project managers to learn about the specific cultures and practices of Indigenous peoples in Turtle Island?

Haida, Cree, Mi’kmaq, Red River Métis Nation, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Inuit, and Tlingit

Research the Indigenous ways of knowing and being, governance structures, and sovereignty issues faced by the specific nation/people that is the focus of your presentation.
Create a presentation (slideshow, Sway or another software) using visual aids and key information that will allow you to record a presentation between 6 and 8 minutes in length. Cover the following information in your oral delivery and recording:
Q1. Overview of the specific Indigenous nation/people in your presentation (name, language, location, etc.)
Q2. Explanation of the group’s unique ways of knowing and being (e.g., cultural practices, spirituality, traditions.)
Q3. Description of the group’s governance structures and leadership roles within the community (e.g., chiefs, councils, matriarchs)
Q4. Analysis of the group’s sovereignty issues (e.g., land rights, land claims, self-determination, treaty rights.)
In your presentation’s conclusions, be sure to reflect on your group’s learning experience during the research process. Comment on the following:
How your understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being, governance, and sovereignty has changed since starting the course;
Why is it important for project managers to learn about the specific cultures and practices of Indigenous peoples in Turtle Island?
Textbook
King, T., Cardinal, T., & Highway, T. (2010). Our story: Aboriginal voices on Canada’s past. Anchor Canada.

Chapter: The Moon of the Dancing Suns
Web Resources
Storer, T. (n.d.). Resources for teaching about Indigenous Peoples of Canada. National Council for the Social Studies. https://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/resources_-_indigenous_peoples_of_canada.pdf

Assembly of First Nations. (2021). 5.1: Introduction to the Indian Act. Assembly of First Nations. https://education.afn.ca/afntoolkit/web-modules/plain-talk-5-indian-act/introduction-to-the-indian-act/

Unit Notes
Unit 5 Notes: Colonization in Canada

Assignments
Due Cultural Examination of Indigenous Peoples 1

Indigenous Governance and Sovereignty in Canada
Indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now known as Canada for thousands of years, with a deep connection to the land and rich cultural traditions that predate European contact. However, with the arrival of settlers beginning in the 15th century, Indigenous nations faced immense challenges to their sovereignty and ways of life. Through policies of assimilation, the Canadian government sought to erode Indigenous governance structures and assert control over First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. While the impacts of colonization continue to be felt today, Indigenous peoples remain resilient in upholding their inherent rights of self-determination.
The Indian Act of 1876 stands as one of the most oppressive pieces of legislation imposed on Indigenous peoples in Canada. Drafted without their consent, the Act granted the federal government broad powers over “Status Indians” and reserves (AFN, 2022). It prohibited cultural practices such as the Potlatch and Sundance ceremonies, outlawed traditional forms of governance, and undermined the authority of hereditary chiefs (TRC, 2015). The Act also established the discriminatory and paternalistic system of the Indian agent, who controlled many aspects of life on reserves (AFN, 2022). Through policies of assimilation, the government aimed to fully integrate Indigenous peoples into Canadian society and do away with their distinct cultural and political identities (AFN, 2022).
While the Indian Act undermined traditional forms of governance, many Indigenous nations maintained their own systems of leadership, decision-making and law. For example, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also known as the Iroquois, has governed through the Great Law of Peace for centuries (Haudenosaunee Confederacy, n.d.). The confederacy is composed of six nations – Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora – who make collective decisions through the Grand Council of male clan mothers (Haudenosaunee Confederacy, n.d.). Other matrilineal systems are found among nations like the Hopi and Lakota (Coulthard, 2014). To this day, hereditary chiefs hold significant roles in communities alongside elected band councils, demonstrating the resilience of Indigenous self-governance (AFN, 2022).
While the Indian Act centralized power in Ottawa, Indigenous nations never relinquished their sovereignty or the responsibilities outlined in their own laws and traditions. As Taiaiake Alfred (2005) explains, “Aboriginal sovereignty is an inherent right, not one dependent on the recognition of any other government” (p. 89). This is evidenced through the many land claims and self-government agreements negotiated in recent decades, which affirm Indigenous jurisdiction over traditional territories. For example, through the Nisga’a Final Agreement of 2000, the Nisga’a Nation in northern British Columbia regained control of approximately 2,000 square kilometers of land and recognized authority in areas like citizenship, taxation, fisheries and forestry (Government of Canada, 2000).
However, significant sovereignty issues remain unresolved. Only approximately 25% of Indigenous peoples in Canada live on reserves, with the rest residing in urban centers due to historical and ongoing colonization processes like the residential school system (Statistics Canada, 2017). Meanwhile, over 120 land claims remain outstanding across the country according to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN, 2022). The lack of settled treaties and comprehensive land claims undermines Indigenous self-determination by restricting the ability to fully govern traditional territories. There are also ongoing conflicts around resource development on unceded lands, as seen through opposition to projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline within Wet’suwet’en territory (Wet’suwet’en, 2022).
Looking ahead, true reconciliation requires upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which outlines the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide (UN, 2022). This includes the right to self-determination, which allows Indigenous nations to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development and control their political status without external interference (UN, 2022). While the Indian Act remains in effect, the federal government must work with Indigenous partners on its full repeal and replacement. Overall, sovereignty is not a matter of government policy, but an inherent right that predates colonization. By respecting Indigenous self-governance and the nation-to-nation relationships outlined in treaties, Canada can make meaningful progress on the journey of reconciliation.
In summary, this article has provided an overview of the impacts of colonization on Indigenous governance and sovereignty in Canada, from the oppressive Indian Act to ongoing land claims and self-government. While traditional forms of leadership faced immense disruption, Indigenous nations have demonstrated resilience in upholding their own systems of decision-making, laws and responsibilities to territory. True reconciliation requires upholding Indigenous rights to self-determination as outlined in UNDRIP by respecting nation-to-nation relationships and inherent Indigenous jurisdiction over traditional lands and peoples. Overall, sovereignty remains an ongoing struggle, but one that Indigenous communities remain committed to advancing through self-governance and asserting their place as equal partners in Confederation.

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