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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that, despite the transitions and legal changes, the legal standing of Indigenous peoples remains uncertain. Canadian governments routinely challenged the assertion that Aboriginal peoples lived in organized societies before the arrival of European peoples, a legal position which Indigenous claimants found fundamentally offensive. That the courts and governments finally recognized the stability and structures of pre-contact Indigenous cultures was a major turning point in Indigenous legal affairs and produced a new level of equality before the law. For generations, the history of the Aboriginal–European encounter focused on a subset of historical process, including military conflict, political alliances, economic relations, and the role of missionaries in Indigenous life. International law played a critical role in the evolution of the global order and, specifically, in the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Keywords: Canadian governments, Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal–European encounter, Indigenous life

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