Imagine if the government happened to, oh, legally define what it means to be Chinese, created a department of Chinese affairs, created Chinese rights, reserved land for Chinese so defined and exempted Chinese living on reserve land from paying property taxes and sales taxes and in some cases taxes of any kind. No one would doubt that this a recipe for disastrous social relations. It also goes without saying that no one would believe that allowing individual groups of Chinese to govern themselves would in anyway remedy the situation. So, why would anyone doubt the same about Native Affairs, native rights, native reserves and native self government?
Yes current laws have helped foster a strong Native identity (legally defining a group as other always does), but on a human level, and surely that is what counts, they have produced nothing but misery. The reserve system, premised as it is on the notion of native rights, is a bureaucratic, fiscal, jurisdictional, legal, intellectual and sociological abortion that does nothing save waste mountains of money, breed corruption, black marketeering and poverty, encourage tax evasion (e.g., cigarettes), instill in the native community a vile sense of identity based on “blood” and breed racism in the Canadian society at large.
The solution to third world property seen on many reserves is staring everyone in the face. Canada works for every other ethnic group and there have been plenty of other minority groups that have overcome racism and economic disadvantage. Canada needs to do the following.
1) Abolish native rights
2) Abolish the Indian Act
3) Divide reserve land equally among status Indians. Give individual Status Indians fee simple title to the land. (Do this and 10s of thousands would suddenly be worth millions.)
4) Turn Band councils into municipal governments.
5) Make the provinces responsible for services that fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Of course, thanks to the idiocy of the 1982, none of this is ever going to happen.