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Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation [Paperback]

Frances Widdowson , Albert Howard
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 24 2008
Despite the billions of dollars devoted to aboriginal causes, Native people in Canada continue to suffer all the symptoms of a marginalized existence - high rates of substance abuse, violence, poverty. Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry argues that the policies proposed to address these problems - land claims and self government - are in fact contributing to their entrenchment. By examining the root causes of aboriginal problems, Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard expose the industry that has grown up around land claim settlements, showing that aboriginal policy development over the past thirty years has been manipulated by non-aboriginal lawyers and consultants. They analyse all the major aboriginal policies, examine issues that have received little critical attention - child care, health care, education, traditional knowledge - and propose the comprehensive government provision of health, education, and housing rather than deficient delivery through Native self-government. Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry presents a convincing argument that the "Aboriginal Industry" has failed to address the fundamental economic and cultural basis of native problems, leading instead to policies that offer a financial benefit to the leadership while entrenching the misery of most aboriginal people.

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Review

"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.<br><br>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

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sharon
Format:Paperback
Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard both believe that people with Down Syndrome are worthless life and that they are only the sum of their "disability." Those who know and have been enriched by the lives of people with Down Syndrome would be deeply offended by Widdowson and Howard's hateful comments. They mask their ignorance and hatred towards these disabled individuals, who work in restaurants and volunteer at camps, and live their lives like everyone else, under a veneering of "pro-choice" rights. But the thing is, once a person is born, they are legally human and cannot be "aborted." So the real question becomes: How are you doing to treat those who are already here and cannot be "eliminated?" In essence, the treatment and dignity of the disabled has nothing to do with forcing a woman to have a disabled child. Hatred towards disabled children should not be masked under the pro-choice umbrella. In fact, there are many in the pro-choice community who know and love someone with Down Syndrome who would agree with me. So are Widdowson and Howard going to disgard them and exclude them and choose to be ignorant of their capabilities? As they were in 1939 Germany?? They cannot proclaim their disdain for the disabled underneath the veil of "feminist rights" everytime someone advocates for the dignity and rights of people already "living" with the syndrome. It's the same veneering that was used in 1939 Germany right? "Poor, poor 'worthless' disabled people with Down Syndrome. They're just burdens on society. Let's just throw them away...in the gas chamber."
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
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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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous and accurate to a fault Dec 28 2012
By John K
Format:Paperback
These authors have taken a taboo subject that plaques my people and brought it to the spot light. They go to great lengths (at some points somewhat insultingly but the truth can be that) to make logical conclusions based on fact and research. If I could force Derek Nepinak to read this and justify his criticism of the government without trying to do anything about the local chiefs I could die a happy man. In my lifetime I hope to see my great grand children wearing suits to work and living comfortably, unless more people in power read this and react accordingly we will go on living the old life and getting what we have always got. We do not need spiritual healing, we need leadership! This book points out just that
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39 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but all too true Feb. 14 2009
By Prairie Pal TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is easier to be politically correct and go along with the widespread romantic primitivism and cultural relativism so popular with virtuous social activists. After all who wants to invite the sanctimonious attention of the virtuous finger wagers. This book shows there are those who will gladly brave the abuse they will suffer to try to find the true causes of the brutal quality of life aboriginals. As is often the case, those who make a living advocating for the interests of the abused are the greatest barrier to progress.

This highly empirical analysis demonstrates the importance of using empirical methodology when analyzing problems and the dangerous pitfalls of indulging in romantic idealism.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars a necessary perspective but an otherwise awful book
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... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cameron Nicholson
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and academic
An important book for anyone concerned by the current state of the First Nations in Canada. I am no expert myself so I cannot properly review this book in its' context, but it... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Robert Cooper
3.0 out of 5 stars Author Frances Widdowson was interviewed on Sun News
I don't have a kindle and have not read the book yet, but it just so happens I stumbled upon the interview that Ezra Levant did with this author on Sun News on January 11 2013 on... Read more
Published 18 months ago by northmama
1.0 out of 5 stars yoko should sue!
Widdowson and Howard are extremely racist and rely on dirty tricks to convince readers of their opinions. For example, the authors have a sarcastic tone throughout the whole book. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2011 by sinthu
1.0 out of 5 stars The rant of arrogant white people
This book makes me embarrassed to be white. It is full of racist rants based on the belief that Western thinking is superior to Indigenous thinking. Read more
Published on July 7 2011 by female reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Anti-Indiginist Hogwash
This book illustrates why the left is no ally for Indigenous aspirations of sovereignty and self government. It is merely the flip side of the coin to the right. Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2010 by Michael J. Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars Variations on the theme of culture, wherever one finds it
VARIATIONS ON THE THEME OF CULTURE, WHEREVER ONE FINDS IT IN RESPONSE TO THE BOOK, "DISROBING THE ABORIGINAL INDUSTRY: THE DECEPTION BEHIND INDIGENOUS CULTURAL PRESERVATION" AND... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2010 by JOANNE LIGHT
5.0 out of 5 stars Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous...
This book is timely for someone has finally had the guts to come out and write the truth. Yet, there is more to be said. I waited a long time for this to happen. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2009 by Barbara M. Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak, Unhelpful, and Unfortunate Anaylsis of a Real Problem
The tragedy with this poorly written AM radio rant of a book is that it fails to bring either the level of analysis or the quality of research and insight that would shed light on... Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2009 by W North
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