Don't be fooled by the reviewers who claim this book is too business-oriented or unrepresentative of aboriginal opinion. Certainly none of the reviewers here can claim to speak for the entire aboriginal population (myself included), but it's worth reading this book because, whether you end up agreeing with it or not, it's thought-provoking.
Helin doesn't argue that we need to forget the injustices of the past, but the focus of the book is on the future. How do we make the future better for our aboriginal population? This is a truly important question, because the average standard of living for aboriginals, especially on-reserve, is simply terrible. We cannot accept this as a fact of life going forward; we must work to change it. How we might go about creating that change is the true subject of the book.
Obviously, given the present state of affairs, our current efforts to improve life for aboriginal people are not working. Yet Hanlin notes the government spends in the neighbourhood of 18 billion dollars each year on services for aboriginals and transfers to the reserves. He makes the reasonable argument that if money alone were capable of fixing the problem, we would have seen some success by now. Throwing more money at this issue will not make it go away.
Contrary to the content of some of the reviews here, Helin in fact praises aboriginal ingenuity and ability. He rightly says that long before the Europeans arrived, aboriginals had a thriving economy and culture, and they were able to achieve those civic successes through hard work and ingenuity: qualities he believes aboriginals still possess.
However, a person can be as hardworking as they want, but without opportunities they still may not get very far. Helin believes the parochial approach taken by the Indian Act and successive federal governments are getting in the way of aboriginal opportunity and self-reliance. He doesn't believe aboriginals want to be dependent on the federal government; he believes they want to be self-reliant, but governmental policies are getting in the way. He lists examples from other countries that demonstrate how poverty among aboriginals was reduced and shows how they might be applied to Canada, or anywhere else.
This book is not a condemnation of aboriginal society, as some reviewers seem to think (did they read the same book?). Helin simply makes logical suggestions on how things might be improved. For instance, when aboriginal chiefs are elected, they are not responsible to their own people. According to the Indian Act, they are responsible to the Minister of Indian Affairs. Helin believes in more democracy, more transparency, and less interference from the federal government. His ideas are the best and most specific I have come across to help aboriginals get out of poverty, and that's a goal that everyone can get behind.