Imagine if the government happened to, oh, legally define what it means Chinese, create a department of Chinese affairs, create Chinese rights, reserve land for Chinese so defined and exempt Chinese living on reserve land from paying taxes of any kind. No one would doubt that is a recipe for disastrous social relations. So, why would anyone doubt the same about Native Affairs, native rights and native reserves? Abolish the reserve system and native rights and comments about "drunken Indians" will become as rare and archaic sounding as "drunken" whatever.
Not to sound too much like a historical materialist, but a culture ceases to form a coherent whole once the dominant mode of production completely changes. This is not controversial. Everyone realizes that recreating the culture of feudal France or Ancient Athens is impossible. Such a task would mean recreating the economic basis upon which fostered these cultures. However, many people it seems have the hair brained notion that it is possible to create a close facsimile of traditional native culture. They have not noticed that what underpins native culture today is not subsistence hunting carried out with modern rifles with scopes in place of traditional hunting tools, but rather Canadian law and past Canadian attempts of social exclusion. The dichotomy between “their” culture and “our” culture is hence false. Canada is the authors of both. The Indian Act and the reserve system is the basis by which status Indians reproduce themselves.
The insistence of many that the communal tenor of Native culture be maintained no matter what amounts to call to save native culture screw the natives. Yes these collection of idiotic laws have helped foster a strong Native identity (legally defining a group as other always does), but on a human level they produced nothing but misery. Why this does not bother more people I do not know. It is time the Canadian government shut down this ant farm. All it has done is produce levels of poverty that could only be described as third world, substance abuse levels that rival countries undergoing serve economic dislocation, suicide rates as high as gay males and American soldiers serving in Iraq and rapid criminality.