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Aboriginal peoples prior to contact were independent self-governing nations. These nations all developed unique and independent political structures. Some were very complex in nature, like the Iroquois Confederacy. Others were much less structured like the Plains nations. However all were affective and all served the peoples' needs.

Canada and the crown entered into treaty negotiations with First Nations people, which put the ball in motion toward the assimilation of First nations people into Canadian culture. Perhaps the first step toward assimilation was the disappearance of traditional governance on reserves brought about by the Indian Act.

In 1982, the Constitutional Act ensured Aboriginal people the right to self-government under section 35(1). There have been various attempts on the part of First Nations leaders and the various levels of governments in Canada to describe what self-government would look like, and how it would be implemented. To this date there has been no universal agreed upon formula, but there are a number of attempts in progress. The Cree-Naskapi Act of 1984 in Quebec, the Sechelt Indian band Act, The Nisga'a Treaty of northern British Columbia, and the first nations governed territory of Nunavut are all examples of self -government models happening now. Despite the disappointments over what governance would look like, negotiations continue to be on going.


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