- Briefly explain the views held by the federal government with regards to residential schools and their purposes as well as the result for Indigenous Peoples.
Answer: In the eyes of the federal government, residential schools were aimed at “civilizing” First Peoples by forcing them to renounce their culture in favour of a Western education. Formal schooling was provided by boarding which also served to separate Indigenous children from their families. Residential schools were one of the most powerful assimilation tools used by the government. From the Indigenous perspective, the schools resulted in stranding First Peoples between two cultures. John Tootosis, the head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians in the late 1950s, stated: “On one side are all the things he learned from his people and their way of life that was being wiped out, and on the other are the white man’s way which he could never fully understand since he never had the right amount of education and could not be part of it.” Additionally, as a result of perpetrated abuses, cycles of intergenerational trauma for Indigenous Peoples began with compulsory attendance at the schools.
- What are some of the major recommendations made by the Hawthorn Report?
Answer: The Hawthorn Report was produced by anthropologist Harry B. Hawthorn and released in 1966. Among the 151 recommendations made by Hawthorn was that Indigenous Peoples should not be forced to assimilate. He also stated that Indigenous Peoples should have the opportunity to study in their own languages, pointing out that school texts were not only inaccurate but even insulting. Hawthorn also suggested further revisions to the Indian Act.
- What strategies were used by the Haudenosaunee within North America to gain more autonomy from the government?
Answer: The Haudenosaunee rejected the authority of the federal government and the provisions of the Indian Act from the outset. Hereditary chiefs advocated for self-government and exemption from the Indian Act as early as 1890 through a petition. Of particular concern to the chiefs was the government’s imposition of an electoral system that did not recognize traditional forms of government. Younger Christian supporters of the new system were called “Dehorners”, and they also supported Canadian economic policies encouraging Indigenous people to farm and assimilate; the “Dehorners” would be challenged by traditionalists who followed the Longhouse religion. Later, the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations band established a committee focused on lobbying for sovereignty to little avail. They even attempted to re-establish the alliances of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Despite their efforts to have their traditional governance structures and practices recognized, the government imposed an elective council to replace the hereditary one. As a result of all this conflict, the band established its own independent police force called the Peacekeepers. However, some band members felt they did not take a strong enough stand and the Warrior movement was also formed; they became a powerful force for greater autonomy and their acts of resistance set the stage for the confrontation at Oka in 1990.