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

Frances Widdowson , Albert Howard
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 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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Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation + First Nations? Second Thoughts: Second Edition + Aboriginal Consultation, Environmental Assessment, and Regulatory Review in Canada
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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.<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
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read for the majority of Canadians. 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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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous and accurate to a fault Dec 28 2012
By John K
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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41 of 60 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
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: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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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Typical Liberal Ignorance and Hatred Towards the Disabled
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. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars An example of the courage to not be politically correct.
It is easier to be politically correct and go along with the widespread romantic primitivism and cultural relativism so popular with virtuous social activists. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Peter Page
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 11 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 21 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
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
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