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Dimensions of Cultural Security for National and Linguistic Minorities

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Edited By Jean-Rémi Carbonneau, Fabian Jacobs and Ines Keller

Cultural security is a basic need for individuals belonging to national and linguistic minorities. Structurally exposed to asymmetric power dynamics, these minorities compete with the larger society for material and non-material resources, rendering their future perspectives particularly precarious. This book brings researchers from different social sciences together to examine the notion of cultural security and its meaning for different national and linguistic minorities through multiple case studies in Europe, Asia, North and South America. The cultural security of these minorities comprises various dimensions, including institutional and territorial arrangements, state stability, as well as different patterns of citizen belonging and participation. Through the prism of these dimensions, the contributors to this book present a variety of strategies of cultural resilience, societal structures and institutional frameworks allowing national and linguistic minorities to secure a certain degree of cultural autonomy and develop a sense of belonging to their respective states. Cultural security is an inescapable condition for the fair and sustained development of both minorities and majorities in today’s societies characterized by deep diversity.

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10 The Reunification of Canada’s Indigenous Nations: Political Power and Cultural Identity

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Political Power and Cultural Identity1

PIERRE TRUDEL

Abstract First Nations are geographically widely dispersed in Canada. They occupy specific territories, called “Indian reserves”, and constitute small populations. Most of these territories have less than 500 inhabitants; only very few are occupied by more than 2,000 persons. In this context, how can “cultural security”, political self-determination and decolonization of Indigenous peoples of Canada be reconciled? To answer that question, we will first present the highlights of the Royal Commission on aboriginal peoples that was established in 1991. We will then examine one of its key recommendations concerning the establishment of “modern polities”, that is the grouping of Indigenous communities into modern nations along cultural and linguistic lines in order to significantly increase their political weight and thus ensure their cultural security in the long run. However, such “modern” political structures designed to strengthen and sustain aboriginal cultures conflict with the Indigenous traditional culture of non-delegation of power. Thirdly and last, we will look how First Nations respond to such a dilemma and how challenging the restructuration of about 1,000 communities into 80 nations is for the Canadian state.

Keywords: Indigenous peoples, Indigenous nations, Canada, Indigenous political structures, Indigenous reunification, reconciliation, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, colonialism, cultural security.

In La Société contre l’État, anthropologist Pierre Clastres, who studied the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon at length, wrote: “The history of peoples with a history is, it is said, the...

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