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Synopsis

Historically, Aboriginal People have had little influence on the development of Native policy from within government. As a result, national, provincial, and regional Native political organizations have developed to lobby government on Native Peoples issues. Joe Sawchuk defines the various native groups in Canada and examines the origins of the organizations that represent them. He examines the structure of the organizations, their relationship with government, how the organizations fit within the context of the larger society, and the way in which power is consolidated within the organizations themselves. Many non-Native structures pervade Native, and especially Metis, political organizations. Using examples from his experience as director of land claims for the Metis Association of Alberta in the early 1980’s, Sawchuk illustrates how Aboriginal organizations set their political agendas, and how federal and provincial funding and internal politics influence those agendas. The record of Native political organizations in Canada has been impressive. The questions continue to be are how their structures affect their ability to represent an Aboriginal point of view, whether government funding blunts their effectiveness, and how decreases in funding might affect them in the future.

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