I watched an NFB (National Film Board of Canada) documentary called Dancing Around the Table about negotiations between the government and the indigenous peoples on land claims and self government. I watched the indigenous people sabotage themselves with unskillful negotiation:
- The aboriginal negotiators kept accusing the non-aboriginals present of stealing their land. None of those present had anything to do with it. It happened back in the 1800s. The culprits are long ago dead. Those present are trying to redress this crime. Lumping all white people together and accusing all whites for the crimes of some subset of whites is racism too.
- Most of the speeches were of the form. You white bastards stole our land and refuse to give us what we want. Only they each took about 15 minutes to say the same thing. (They were never any more specific about what land they wanted back or what else they wanted.) Falsely accusing your opponents does nothing but get everyone’s backs up, on both sides. The essential argument seemed to be, you guys are such sick fucks, to atone, you should give us a blank cheque for anything we want. This is approach is hardly going to appeal to someone in government who believes they are trying to do the right thing and is looking for a token first step. He has to sell his fellow whites on whatever he does too.
- They demanded all the land in North and South America back. They demanded absolute self government, what sounded like the status of autonomous nation states. Obviously it is impossible to comply with that since the government of Canada does not even own all that land. Since the indigenous people made no more specific smaller demands, there was nothing the government could agree to.
By adamantly demanding nothing less than 100% restitution, the indigenous people ended up with the status quo, which was considerably less than the government was willing to give them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)