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Two Families: Treaties and Government

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This text is Harold Johnson's narrative on the relationship between First Nations, governments, and society in general. Writing in response to a student asking him what treaties meant, Johnson presents a different view of the treaty relationship. Treaties were the instruments that gave Europeans the right to settle here, share resources, and build a relationship of This text is Harold Johnson's narrative on the relationship between First Nations, governments, and society in general. Writing in response to a student asking him what treaties meant, Johnson presents a different view of the treaty relationship. Treaties were the instruments that gave Europeans the right to settle here, share resources, and build a relationship of equality with those who were here before. Johnson's ancestor's did not intend the treaties to allow the subjugation and impoverishment of First Nations, or give settler governments the right to legislate every aspect of First Nations activities. In an easy to read style, the author presents his eloquent personal view on what treaties between First Nations and governments represent. Two Families is a passionate plea for the restoration of harmony and equality between First Nations and the rest of Canadian society. It is a must read for everyone seeking to understand an Aboriginal perspective on treaties.


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This text is Harold Johnson's narrative on the relationship between First Nations, governments, and society in general. Writing in response to a student asking him what treaties meant, Johnson presents a different view of the treaty relationship. Treaties were the instruments that gave Europeans the right to settle here, share resources, and build a relationship of This text is Harold Johnson's narrative on the relationship between First Nations, governments, and society in general. Writing in response to a student asking him what treaties meant, Johnson presents a different view of the treaty relationship. Treaties were the instruments that gave Europeans the right to settle here, share resources, and build a relationship of equality with those who were here before. Johnson's ancestor's did not intend the treaties to allow the subjugation and impoverishment of First Nations, or give settler governments the right to legislate every aspect of First Nations activities. In an easy to read style, the author presents his eloquent personal view on what treaties between First Nations and governments represent. Two Families is a passionate plea for the restoration of harmony and equality between First Nations and the rest of Canadian society. It is a must read for everyone seeking to understand an Aboriginal perspective on treaties.

42 review for Two Families: Treaties and Government

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book was a surprise. I've been ignorant of Canadian treaties with indigenous groups, why they were made, who they were for, and what they do today. Harold Johnson describes the treaties from his point of view as both a Harvard-educated lawyer and First Nations member living in rural Saskatchewan within the boundaries of Treaty No. 6. He knows the two systems of living well, the two perspectives and the sets of assumptions that come with them. (Side note: I was interested to learn that my This book was a surprise. I've been ignorant of Canadian treaties with indigenous groups, why they were made, who they were for, and what they do today. Harold Johnson describes the treaties from his point of view as both a Harvard-educated lawyer and First Nations member living in rural Saskatchewan within the boundaries of Treaty No. 6. He knows the two systems of living well, the two perspectives and the sets of assumptions that come with them. (Side note: I was interested to learn that my hometown of Red Deer, AB straddles Treaties 6 and 7.) Two Families is an easy read because the writing is so good, but its critiques of Western society cut like a scalpel. A scalpel used by a kind, qualified doctor who truly wants to help, but a sharp one. Johnson describes a vision for his nation where its people can exist alongside settlers of the land we call Canada, as adopted family. After all, it was "_they_" who granted "_us_" treaty rights upon arrival. Rights which have been ignored by the Canadian legal system when convenient, and definitely forgotten by the culture at large. After reading this book, I feel like I better understand the bigger picture of Canada's treaties, and some of the details too. Crystal clarity, excellent writing, and a script-flipping perspective (at least for me) make this a must-read 5/5. It's a small act of un-forgetting.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Fay

    I really really enjoyed this. Definitely recommend to anybody looking to read up on Canadian indigenous literature.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Fehr

    This is an important book for Canadians so I think you should read it but it's also kind of a boring book at times, so brace yourself for that. Johnson is a rare author. He's a Cree fellow who was raised traditionally, insofar as that was possible when he was a kid in the 50's and 60's, and who maintains traditional aspects of his life while also practicing law. He's a man who can "walk in both worlds," the world of a Cree man connected to his culture and in the modern, prevailing world, the one This is an important book for Canadians so I think you should read it but it's also kind of a boring book at times, so brace yourself for that. Johnson is a rare author. He's a Cree fellow who was raised traditionally, insofar as that was possible when he was a kid in the 50's and 60's, and who maintains traditional aspects of his life while also practicing law. He's a man who can "walk in both worlds," the world of a Cree man connected to his culture and in the modern, prevailing world, the one you and I live in. As a result he has both unique insight into how Cree people of his generation (who really weren't that far removed from the original signing of Treaty 6 in 1876 and an adhesion that covered his First Nation in 1898) view Treaty 6 and, most importantly, a unique ability to articulate that perspective and share it with us. I think what Johnson shows in the book is that the spirit and intent of Treaty 6 was to facilitate a good relationship between its signatories that the spirit and intent was broken. He demonstrates how it was broken in many areas of First Nations' affairs and what the consequences have been. It's not entirely a satisfying read because he doesn't really roll out a prescription for what needs to be done to repair the relationship. I also think that it's necessary for him not to because there is no single was to manage a relationship, let alone repair one, and Johnson knows that. He's trying to make us see that the relationship as it exists is not a good one, that moderation and good sense are needed to make it into a good one. He's also trying to appeal us to make this an issue that we care about and expect action on. I found it a bit dry at times because he doesn't really have the most compelling writing style. But the content is important so I waded through the dry parts. So should you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Archer

    Excellent read, providing a great perspective on the nation-to-nation relationship the Canadian government insists it wants to have with First Nations in this country. Johnson describes that relationship more as a familial relationship, which has entirely different implications in each of our cultures and structures. I really appreciated his take on the Canadian constitution and how it derives its legitimacy not from superiority, but from treaties with his people. The Canadian government is in a Excellent read, providing a great perspective on the nation-to-nation relationship the Canadian government insists it wants to have with First Nations in this country. Johnson describes that relationship more as a familial relationship, which has entirely different implications in each of our cultures and structures. I really appreciated his take on the Canadian constitution and how it derives its legitimacy not from superiority, but from treaties with his people. The Canadian government is in a tangled mess without this acknowledgement, and I wonder how both families can move forward in a healthy, respectful manner, devoid of superiority on either side. "Superiority has no legitimacy."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    This is a dense and heavy read that describes many (most? all?) of the structural/legislative constructs that contribute to subjugation and poverty of First Nations people. For me, this book developed my understanding of law in respect to First Nations communities. The book also helped me see how many of the ideas that I have are artificial European constructs (the 'economy', the tax system) in which I (unconsciously) choose to participate. Very enlightening. Thank you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Blair

    Every white person needs to read this book

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ishita

    Even though it took me a couple of chapters to get over the inherent blame Johnson seems to be placing with his words, Two Families is illuminating and a much needed step in the right direction. While focusing on past injustices and historical traumas, Johnson suggests viable and intelligent solutions for the government-Aboriginal stalemate in Canada. A must-read for those interested in living in Canada ethically, and creating accountable relationships between the government and Aboriginal Even though it took me a couple of chapters to get over the inherent blame Johnson seems to be placing with his words, Two Families is illuminating and a much needed step in the right direction. While focusing on past injustices and historical traumas, Johnson suggests viable and intelligent solutions for the government-Aboriginal stalemate in Canada. A must-read for those interested in living in Canada ethically, and creating accountable relationships between the government and Aboriginal peoples.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zackary Derrick

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  10. 4 out of 5

    Court Klassen

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ethan Zeidenberg

  12. 5 out of 5

    Todd Wiebe

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mkigrey

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ray Johnson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mack

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shayna

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alistair Stewart

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Campbell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deb

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    Kalin

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    AL

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laina

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    Angie Caron

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hatdowl

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

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    Jennpower

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    Ryan Dueck

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy Rhoda Brown

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  31. 5 out of 5

    Saeedeh

  32. 4 out of 5

    Abu-Isa Webb

  33. 5 out of 5

    Adelle

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    Liz

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    Alex

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    Dana Connolly

  37. 5 out of 5

    Amina

  38. 5 out of 5

    Rigel

  39. 5 out of 5

    R Taylor

  40. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

  41. 4 out of 5

    Bobbi-ann Dunn

  42. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

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