Tony Penikett


The indigenous rights movement has been defined as a struggle for land and jurisdiction. Over the last forty years, American and Canadian governments made much progress on the land question in the Arctic and sub-Arctic; however, from an irrational fear of the unknown, politicians in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa have effectively blocked the pathways to aboriginal jurisdiction or self-government. During the late-twentieth century in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, as well as in Nisga’a territory, indigenous governments negotiated local government powers, but continent-wide progress on the question of indigenous jurisdiction has stalled. This Article considers the formation and implementation of land treaties with indigenous peoples, the international impact of such treaties, the effect of settler history, and the struggle for indigenous jurisdiction. It concludes that if the governments do not open their hearts and minds to the cause, First Nation frustration could turn into violent confrontation.