By Curtis Cook, Juan Lindau
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Additional resources for Aboriginal Rights and Self-Government. The Canadian and Mexican Experience in North American Perspective
The Indian Act gave to the government of Canada the authority to decide who is or is not an Aboriginal person, making the decision in part political, as mentioned above. But Aboriginal authorities prefer to decide who is to be a member of their communities. This issue is muddied not only by the Indian Act, which could be overcome by legislative action, as has been done in the past,33 but also by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, by corresponding judicial interpretation, by the very real problems in allocating scarce government resources, and by different legal and political rights of status and nonstatus persons.
In the United States, John Collier was President Franklin Roosevelt's commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the proponent of sympathetic, accommodating reforms in Indian policy. He kept Indian policy on the agenda in Washington. In Canada, Duncan Campbell Scott, in contrast a dedicated assimilationist, was a significant lifelong figure in the Department of Indian Affairs from 1879 to 1932. His influence, enduring after his retirement, was to bar Indian policy from the agenda in Ottawa.
In pursuit of this goal, the San Andres Accords called for the drafting of national legislation, including constitutional reforms, that would recognize the collective rights of communities and permit the redrawing of municipal boundaries to reflect areas with majority indigenous populations. They recognized indigenous rights to ancestral lands and established the granting of concessions to communities that would give them control of their natural resources. Furthermore, the agreement required the promotion and protection of indigenous cultures and customs and the creation of bilingual and culturally sensitive education in indigenous communities.
Aboriginal Rights and Self-Government. The Canadian and Mexican Experience in North American Perspective by Curtis Cook, Juan Lindau