Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government, Social Suffering, and Aboriginal Policy in Canada

Finding Dahshaa: Self-Government, Social Suffering, and Aboriginal Policy in Canada

By: Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox (author)Hardback

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Just as dahshaa, a rare type of dried, rotted spruce wood, is essential to the moosehide-tanning process in Dene culture, self-determination and the alleviation of social suffering are necessary to Indigenous survival in Northwest Territories. But are self-government agreements an effective path to self-determination? Finding Dahshaa describes self-government negotiations as they have unfolded between Canada and the Dehcho, Deline, and Inuvialuit and Gwich'in peoples. By contrasting accounts of negotiating sessions in city boardrooms with vibrant descriptions of Dene moosehide-tanning camps on the land and community meetings in small northern communities, it shows why Canada's Aboriginal policy has failed to alleviate the causes of social suffering in the North. Social suffering is not a relic of the past, it has become part of the process as government negotiators have dismissed it as irrelevant to self-government or used it as a rationale to minimize Indigenous authority. Ethnographic descriptions of tanning practices, which embody principles and values central to the project of self-determination, by contrast, offer an alternative model for negotiations. An informed and passionate account, Finding Dahshaa draws on the author's experience working for Indigenous peoples and includes a foreword by Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. It is the first ethnographic study of self-government negotiations in Canada. Website link:

About Author

Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox holds a doctorate in polar studies from Cambridge University and for the past decade has worked for Indigenous peoples on self-government and related political development processes in Canada's Northwest Territories. For more information, visit


Foreword / Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief Acknowledgments Pronunciation Guide Introduction 1 Context and Concepts 2 Tanning Moosehide 3 Dehcho Resource Revenue Sharing 4 Deline Child and Family Services 5 Inuvialuit and Gwich'in Culture and Language Conclusion Notes References Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780774816243
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 216
  • ID: 9780774816243
  • weight: 420
  • ISBN10: 0774816244

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