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Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation Paperback – Oct 24 2008

28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgill-Queens University Press; First Edition edition (Oct. 24 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0773534210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0773534216
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry does an excellent job of pointing out logical inconsistencies in the Aboriginal political movement - a matter of great practical as well as academic importance." Tom Flanagan, author of First Nations? Second Thoughts "Insightful, carefully argued and meticulously documented." John Richards, Simon Fraser University

About the Author

Frances Widdowson is a visiting assistant professor of political science, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Albert Howard has worked as a consultant for government and Native groups, and is currently an instructor and D

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent explanation of how -- generation after generation -- the first Canadians remain poor and under-educated, unable to participate in the Canadian economy, while lawyers and others make a good living from the "aboriginal industry." Widdowson and Howard show who is -- and who isn't -- benefitting from this multibillion-dollar industry which preserves the status quo instead of improving the plight of aboriginal peoples.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JB on Aug. 26 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As this is no place for a thorough book review, I'll keep it brief. In general, I liked it, in spite of the majority of "scholarly" reviews being perversely negative, spitting pure vitriol and never forgoing personal attacks on the authors, while lacking the ability to refute arguments made in the book with references from pure scholars, i.e. non-activists. The structure is perfectly sound, the arguments are thoroughly referenced with works that have received genuine recognition in international academic circles and the themes covered are of the utmost importance to all Canadians. Those who actually read it, word for word from beginning to end, may find it to be insensitive. I myself found it a bit condescending at times, hence my 4/5 star rating. However, the disingenuous political correctness demanded by those in the "Aboriginal Industry," and supporters, both intentional and unintentional, thereof, does not negate the legitimate concerns of Canadians regarding billions upon billions of their tax dollars disappearing into a black hole, while so many Aboriginals on reserves still enjoy 2nd to 3rd world living standards. This book gives voice to the silenced majority of Canadians.
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44 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Prairie Pal TOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 14 2009
Format: Paperback
It is not surprising that this book has engendered such polarized reviews. Those who dismiss the authors, however, have probably never seen the roots causes of aboriginal cultural dysfunction as up-close as Widdowson and Howard. Before calling these earnest left-wingers "racists" or "colonialists", critics should spend time working with natives to see first-hand how these communities have been betrayed by their leaders and bureaucrats. The continuing shipwreck of the aboriginal rights industry could be solved by paying attention to this book which I recommend to all Canadians who are baffled as to why the billions spent on the problem have been wasted.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Palmer on Dec 6 2010
Format: Paperback
When the authors said they were going to abandon old politically charged understandings of aboriginal policy in Canada for an honest look at the facts, I was excited. When the authors announced in the introduction that they were going to be using the lens of a marxist theory of development, my heart sank.

In short, the authors do a good job of knocking down a few sacred cows of contemporary aboriginal policy in Canada. "Traditional knowledge" and "oral histories" are given far too much credit in policy making and the courts. Policies that identify self government as a panacea without taking a good look at the often corrupt inner workings of aboriginal communities, are doomed to failure. Some misstatements and exaggerations included, this book provides a good overview of everything that has gone wrong.

The problem comes when the authors try to explain why things are in a dismal state. They have essentially knocked down one false intellectual idol, only to put another in its place. The theory of "development" the authors espouse has been relegated to the dustbin of academia for decades. The very title of the book is a slap in the face to critical thinkers everywhere as the existence of an "aboriginal industry" is assumed with no evidence being presented. No where to be found is a moderate discussion over the place of traditional knowledge and oral histories. While not up to the standards of the scientific method and written history, they are not devoid of value.

I don't think I am alone in having exited my formal education with a feeling that too many academics waste much of their (supposed) talents and intellect on tearing down. "The Aboriginal Industry", has done nothing to improve the situation.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Nicholson on Dec 6 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
These two authors (who primarily speak with one voice) have produced an inelegant, verbose and prosaic opus that nevertheless offers an important perspective not commonly expressed - that aboriginal issues are riddled with falsity, hopeless romanticism and plain shoddy thinking. Although the authors are relentless in their attempted demolition of the Aboriginal Industry and their tone is heartless and often cruel, what they say cannot be easily refuted. The realities of our country are more nuanced than the authors allow, the colour palette we live and work from has more subtlety than black and white and the authors simply don't address those other equally real circumstances that complicate their simple hypothesis. Still, their basic point - that aboriginals in North America were still in the Stone Age when Europeans ( who had moved on from their Stone Age several thousand years sooner) arrived- cannot be seriously discounted or denied. Aboriginal people understandably detest the implications of that truth - at least those implications that led to the ignorant and uncaring assumptions, policies and practices of the missionaries, the Indian agents and the governments - but there is no shame at all in being what you are. Aboriginal peoples were different than Europeans, not better, not worse, not higher or lower but different. Not equal either. Just different. For today's aboriginals the differences are less but still pronounced. The question that needs an answer is "Where do we go from here?". This book, along with others than can give perspective, should help today's Aboriginals as well as their fellow Canadians get a firm foundation to build upon.
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