History 469 (201) Aboriginal Title in British Columbia: History and Legacy
Indigenous peoples have never ceded or surrendered their title to most of the territory called “British Columbia.” Accordingly, all people living here today have inherited what nineteenth-century settlers dubbed “the Indian Land Question.” How and why did settler society manage to avoid addressing and recognizing Aboriginal title for over a century? What are the implications of the unceded status of much of British Columbia for the future and for attempts at “reconciliation”? This course examines these questions by tracing the history of Indigenous activism and settler policy around the so-called “land question” from the mid-nineteenth century to today. Over the past one hundred and fifty years Indigenous people never stopped putting this “question” to settler society and government. They continue to do so in intensified ways within the context of resource development and infrastructure projects on their lands. We will consider the range of strategies that Indigenous people have used in this struggle including the courts, treaties, direct action, and international law. Required readings will include primary historical documents as well as scholarly secondary sources. Some previous knowledge of Indigenous history is encouraged.