Aboriginal Self-Government in the United States


69 pages
ISBN 0-88911-430-7




Reviewed by Sam Coghlan

Sam Coghlan was Deputy Director and Senior Consultant of the Thames Ontario Library Service Board, Southwestern Ontario.


The work is a background piece that provides information on examples from other countries; its audience includes those involved in the current dialogue between native organizations and the first ministers of the governments of Canada on the subject of native self-government. The United States is used not merely because it, like Canada, is a federal state but also because the countries shared experiences in settlement prior to the attainment of American independence. For instance, both were subject to England’s Royal Proclamation of 1763.

The evolution of the status of natives in the United States is presented systematically with a focus on the main stages in the development of their status. Except for the conclusion, only major differences from the Canadian experience are pointed out, such as the American periods of “Removal” (where Indians were transported westward) and of “Allotment” (through which the total of Indian land was decreased considerably and self-government was effectively destroyed). Consequently, the book reads like a cogent presentation of the history of Indian government relations in the United States. The points to be made with the Canadian readers are saved until the conclusion. The author frequently quotes from original sources.

The book is useful for the purpose for which it is intended. It should somewhat illuminate the Canadian discussions. It is also useful since it presents a summary description of the American experience.


Sanders, Douglas, “Aboriginal Self-Government in the United States,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36435.