Thursday, August 14, 2014

What's wrong with native rights?

If you read my previous post it ended with the question: "So you might wonder why so many libertarian and conservative thinkers are apposed to the way the First Nation's people were dealt with and are being dealt with in Canada?"

Many people think it's a property rights issue, and of course libertarians, particularly those from political parties, view property rights as fundamental rights, and I agree. 

But, is this a property rights issue?

European settlers made contact with North American aboriginals more than 500 years ago. Their had been wars, periods of peace and finally settlement through a series of agreements and treaties. You can read the history here and onward. The treaties were designed to prevent war while encouraging commerce, interaction and interdependence creating a virtuous circle of sorts. It worked, more or less, but to this day there are no final settlements. At the risk of oversimplifying the situation here is what I mean.
North American aboriginals were not a homogeneous group, some were farmers, some nomads and often there were territorial disputes between them. The Europeans complicated the situation, bringing a totally different culture and worldview to North America. Essentially agreements were reached with different bands that tried to accommodate their uniqueness, but nothing was resolved in finality. The unwillingness of past governments and native leaders to finalize issues, left us with half cooked deals. These are the so-called numbered treaties, mostly written after Confederation, which were modelled after one another across Canada (see map above). For example here is the summary for Treaty Number Nine, the one that encompasses much of Northwestern Ontario.

Many Canadians are under the illusion the somehow much of Canada still "belongs" to the aboriginals and the rest of us are interlopers, renting these properties. But the wording in all the treaties is very similar. Each treaty states that Aboriginal nations forever give up their land rights to the government of Canada for European settlement. That's pretty clear, this is NOT a rental agreement. But the problem with the treaty wording is the idea that land rights are given up in return for this sample from Treaty Nine: 
  • 2.5 square kilometers of reserve land for each family of five or 600 square meters for each person. 
  • $8 per person each year, plus an additional $4 annually for the family head; chiefs get $32 and an extra $8 payment. They also get a flag and a copy of the treaty.
  • The right to hunt and fish on ceded land, except land used for forestry, mining, settlement or other purposes.
  • $1 per family head for ammunition and fishing net twine.
  • Funds to hire teachers, construct school buildings, and buy educational equipment as the government of Canada sees fit.
  • A census to keep track of how many Aboriginals there were in each band, mainly for financial compensation purposes.
This, I think is outrageous. Treaty Nine was signed over 100 years ago and there are ten other treaties that are similar. It amounts to non-natives being in perpetual debt to natives through enforced rent-seeking. It looks, acts, and smells, like a rental agreement. Only a government would have the arrogance to proclaim something as silly as a property transfer agreement that has no end date and no resolution. These are the so-called "native rights" (plus others in each province), and of course they aren't rights at all but contracts based on and enforced according to racial origin. It is special treatment by race, it is racism by definition.

Many libertarians have issues with the so-called "social contract" that burdens citizens to accept certain obligations placed on them by government even though they did not personally consent to them or even make use of resources spent supposedly on their behalf. But this obligation to aboriginals makes it worse for all Canadians.

So I'm not speaking on behalf of my party here or even on behalf of other libertarians. The issue for me is rent seeking, and a debt that apparently will never be repaid.

What's wrong with native rights? The same thing that is wrong with Gay rights or women's rights or any particular group that seeks special rights. There is only one kind of rights: human rights, and they are the right to life, liberty and property. If you have given up your property, than make a final deal and walk away. 
More on this issue next time.


  1. With all due, respect, and I will try to keep this short, by leaving out many of my objections...

    Gay people aren't a sovereign nation. That's the difference. It's is not at all "special treatment by race." We received land, in exchange for a number of promises. There are actually more than are listed here, and the officials who wrote the treaties have admitted that there were a number of other provisions that were negotiated, but not included in the documents. So, if you no longer wish to honour our commitments in the treaties, then fine! We simply give the land back, and we no longer have any "debt."

    Individuals WITHIN a society have equal rights, but we have no right to dictate domestic policy for other rightfully sovereign nations. Assimilation is not compatible with libertarianism.

    1. The natives gave up their right to sovereignty when they gave up their land. If they wish to be sovereign, then act like a nation, with defined borders etc. Sovereignty is not a department of another government as it is now. Look at the results, look at what happened, reality is reality. Don't tell me that this works - it hasn't, doesn't and can never work.

      A deal can be made, but returning the land is out of the question. It has been homesteaded ( away. The concept of land ownership among many native groups did not exist, and even if it did the land was still given up. The only question now should "in return for what?"
      That is where we are today, there is no going back to correct an error. There is no benefit to the natives to continue as is.
      And by the way, its unrealistic to think that native groups would ever vote for us. We want less government, they want status quo - won't happen.

  2. Unrealistic for native's to vote for us?I'll let the Mohawk's Bay of Quinte read your comment's and that way we can surely say they will Not vote for us.Foolish comparison's.

  3. They want freedom from government like us, and the non-aggression principle favours my position. I don't want them to be a department under our government. I want them to be sovereign, as they were before the government tried to forcibly assimilate them.

    Also, "returning the land is out of the question" is not what the Libertarian Party of Canada's platform says.

    1. On the contrary, an unsettled obligation made by foolish signatories on both sides, that compels present and future generations to pay a tax, is against the NAP.

  4. No, because said obligations COULD be fulfilled without the initiation of force, but the assimilation of multiple sovereign indigenous nations and the denial of their contract rights cannot.

    1. Really, so we can close the Min. of Aboriginal Affairs? I refuse to pay my share, of course nothing will happen to me. Give me a break. I have never mentioned assimilation. I honestly don't care what happens - I did not consent to be ripped off. Furthermore, I don't recognize their sovereignty. As far as being indigenous, their is good evidence that aboriginals arrived after the ice age, just earlier than Europeans.


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