By Michael Asch
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Extra info for Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equity, and Respect for Difference
8 That is, it may be that they recognized that the political culture of a place cannot be something apart from the place itself. The community which develops and depends upon that culture is also, in a fundamental way, a part of that place; and the ways in which a 'people' 13 14 J. Edward Chatnberlin become 'public/ the ways in which they constitute themselves as a people, are determined by deep convictions about that participation in place, and the culture which is nourished by it. These convictions, like these cultures, obviously differ.
The notion of citizenship as we understand it, involving certain rights and duties in relation to the state, was not a term in general currency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. ' Enfranchisement, using this later terminology, was about citizenship. Specifically it was about achieving British (and in due course Canadian) citizenship. It was also, therefore, about Indian citizenship. For what the notion of enfranchisement affirmed was that an Indian must give up tribal allegiance, which is to say being an Indian, in order to be accepted as British or Canadian.
If we do not understand the arbitrariness, the political and cultural artifice, of the British frame, we are unlikely to acknowledge, much less to appreciate, the Aboriginal frame - no less arbitrary, of course, but also no less grounded in a long-standing theory and practice designed to ensure the continuing ascendancy of culture over anarchy. I mentioned earlier that the treaties were storylines. They dealt with the menace of anarchy by advocating cultural meanings. They were and they still are - ceremonies of belief as much as chronicles of events.
Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equity, and Respect for Difference by Michael Asch