The following is a comment posted to an article on The Economist about Canadian natives in the Nov. 17, 2011 issue. This may not be about economics but having lived on a reserve for four years it is something about which I have strong feelings.
The way in which us Canadians currently treat our native population is mostly nasty and much worse than anything which happened in the past.
If we are to treat them humanely we must come to terms with two things.
First, they were and still are a conquered people. When the Europeans came to North American, they conquered the natives with the help of smallpox. The royal decree that they had to negotiate treaties was a fiction to cover the reality.
The second is that the way we currently treat natives is working to make them into scapegoats. By allowing them special privileges other Canadians are developing a lot of resentment. As the economy goes down it will be convenient to be able to blame natives rather than ourselves. This is already happening with respect to parts of the West coast fishery where natives are being blamed by some people for a decline of the Fraser River salmon run.
The most important thing to do to for natives is to treat them with equality. They should have the same rights and responsibilities as every other Canadian.