Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity

Article excerpt

Pamela D. Palmater, Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2011), 280 pp. Paper. $35. ISBN 978-I-895830-60-6.

While it is a truism that legislation affects people's lives in an intimate way, it is rare to find such a thorough and insightful analysis of these affects. Dr Pamela Palmater has produced a book which does precisely this. In Beyond Blood she has identified how the classification of 'Indian' in the Indian Act has had profound effects on Indigenous identity and ultimately survival.

For those unfamiliar with the Indian Act and its deployment as a mechanism for categorising and controlling the Indigenous population in Canada, the book presents an excellent overview. For those more familiar with the Indian Act and its role in the colonisation of Canada, it serves to highlight the more insidious consequences. At the core of this discussion is the proposal that Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own citizenship, rather than being bound by the, quite literal, 'blood lines' prescribed by the Act. Palmater provides the evidence that if this does not soon become reality there will no longer be any 'status' Indians as defined by the Act, the consequence of such a situation being the disentitlement of Indigenous peoples from meaningful connections to their cultural traditions.

In support of her argument for the right of Indigenous peoples to determine their own citizenship, she provides a detailed and rigorous analysis of the legal tools that could be employed to further such a claim. …

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