Fraudulent Indigeneity Claims: Indigenous Nations Are Identity and Experts

Cheryl simon, Dalhousie University

There is a growing movement to identify and call people who have fraudulently held positions by claiming they are indigenous as Cheyanne Turions, Joseph Boyden, Michelle Latimer and Carrie Bourassa.

Fraudulent claims of indigeneity are so widespread that the term “pretendians”It has become part of the usual vocabulary.

On the surface, this appears to align with the interests of Indigenous Peoples, but with the claims come underlying components of colonialism. In other words, indigenous nations are not being recognized as authorities when determining indigeneity.

Genealogy as the only factor

Those who are quick to call out are often not clamoring for the jurisdiction of indigenous nations over citizenship, nor are they demanding that “suitors” be held accountable to indigenous nations.

Instead, people like non-indigenous genealogists present themselves as “experts”About what does or does not do to an indigenous person.

The result of having genealogy as the only factor is that the dialogue does not focus on indigenous peoples as socio-political groups, but racial purity which perpetuates colonial stereotypes of indigenous identity.

On a table is a DNA test kit and a spit tube.
The genealogy that determines indigenous identity does not recognize indigenous peoples as socio-political groups. (Shutterstock)

Understanding what makes a person indigenous is complex. There are the obvious sources of indigeneity, such as kinship and the receipt of cultural teachings from the Elders and knowledge holders, which are established at birth and strengthened throughout a person’s life.

Other customs and traditions include the adoption of non-indigenous people by indigenous families. Adoption is a long-recognized practice in many nations. that has resulted in adoptees learning the language, cultural teachings, and values ​​necessary to be part of that nation.

Whether an adoption is valid is a matter for the nation from which the person has been adopted to decide.

There are also examples of communities that have granted full membership to non-indigenous people, based on criteria established by the First Nation. The Fort Williams First Nation in Ontario appointed Damien Lee as a full member, which means he has the right to vote in elections, run for office, and the benefits provided by the First Nation.

He grew up on a reservation, and although he is not indigenous and therefore does not have status under Indigenous Law, the First Nation has exercised legal jurisdiction over identity and recognized him as a member.

The fundamental question at the heart of this question is how to distinguish between fraudulent and legitimate claims. The answer is in the nations.

Jurisdiction as a human right

As autonomous nations with Aboriginal rights recognized constitutionallyIndigenous peoples should be the sole authority to determine who are part of their nations. It should be based on your own criteria, as it was before the Indian Law enforcement. And nations must have the jurisdiction to enforce the laws they develop.

Taking this into account, article 33.1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) it recognizes that “indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their own customs and traditions.”

Now that Canada has passed legislation that establishes a framework for the implementation of the UNDRIP, Indigenous nations should be recognized as the authority to determine who is indigenous. UNDRIP does not automatically remove Canadian authority over identity, so the government will need to take steps to ensure that existing legislation recognizes indigenous jurisdiction in this area.

Both the Canadian government and non-indigenous experts must renounce the authority they have assumed. Failure to do so will continue the discrimination and systemic violence that indigenous peoples face.

A copy of the Indian Act is burning.
A copy of the Indian Act is burned. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck

Assimilative policies

From the Confederacy, Canada assimilative policies they have actively worked to strip indigenous peoples of their identity and deny indigenous jurisdiction.

The federal government has dictated who is an “Indian” through the definition of status in Indian Law and acknowledges “the Registrar of India [as] the only authority under Indigenous Law that can determine a person’s eligibility to obtain indigenous status. “

These policies are discriminatory and have led to the denial of indigeneity based on quantum blood and other arbitrary criteria such as marriage, university studies or consecrated to holy orders to the forced expulsion of indigenous people children of their families within non-indigenous households and residential and day schools.

The result is that thousands of indigenous peoples are traumatized by not knowing who their families or communities are, making reconnection extremely difficult.

The funding policies of the federal government, in which resources and service delivery are concentrated on the status of Indians living on reservations. serve to create and maintain a scarcity mentality that reinforces colonial approaches to identity and undermines self-government.

If the current trend continues, according to which people’s claims of indigeneity will be challenged by non-indigenous people, based on criteria established by non-indigenous perspectives, indigenous peoples will face even greater barriers to reconnecting with their families and communities, and the decolonization efforts will suffer.

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A better solution to the problem of fraudulent claims is to support indigenous nations and their jurisdiction over identity.

This approach is aligned with the UNDRIP and supports the right to self-government. Indigenous nations have been the authority over who they are for thousands of years, it is time their jurisdiction over this was recognized.

Cheryl simon, Adjunct Professor of Aboriginal and Indigenous Law, Dalhousie University

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the Original article.

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