Professor B. Diane Robinson
26 October 2017
Assignment 1: Aboriginal Perspective on the Word Tribe
Tribe is generally defined by a group of Native Americans sharing a common language and culture. However, did you know the word tribe can be viewed as an offensive term for Aboriginal people? Many Aboriginal people of Canada have now adopted the term nation in order to emphasize their sovereign political status. Although, the word tribe has not been completely rejected by Canadian Aboriginals, it is used when describing regional councils (e.g., Wabun Tribal Council), it’s also used by Aboriginal people to distinguish themselves as part of a distinct group of our current political system. The word tribe can be derogatory to Aboriginal people and the term "First Nation" is now the term used by many Indian bands in Canada. The word tribe was created during the colonial era to classify Aboriginal societies based on ancestral language. Ethnology was the discipline in which the government used to label and classify the various Aboriginal people. In the following essay, we will explore the history of the word tribe, how it’s become a misleading term and we will also talk about what was colonialism and how it has changed the Aboriginal Foundation of Peoplehood.
To begin, let’s examine the history of the word tribe. Before the term “tribe”, “nation”, or “band” were used, Aboriginal people simply called themselves “the people”. Each Aboriginal group regardless of their language or culture, referred to one another as “the people”. It is not until the colonial era that we see the term tribe begin to be used. It is when the Europeans settlers arrived and colonization began when the colonial government decided that Aboriginal people had to be classified. The government, however, based the labels on their knowledge and curriculum. “Given the extensive research of ethnologists and linguists, the government saw no need to ask Native people to define themselves (Corbiere et al. 37). The government did not see Aboriginal people knowledgeable enough to govern themselves. The major differences between the European’s and Aboriginal people led non-Natives to believe the epistemology that Aboriginal people are deficient, “backwards” and less developed then Europeans. The classification of Aboriginal people by the colonial government was a vital piece in colonizing and establishing complete control over the indigenous territories. The aboriginal tribes were classified by ancestral language and how the labels came to be were done primarily by ethnologist and linguists. The tribal names that were recorded were usually based on ways Aboriginal people described themselves and each other. Other times, the names were based on Europeans way of describing a given group.
Second, let’s examine how the people foundation has construed a misleading term. First, we often here of different tribes like African tribes, Indian tribes, but have you ever heard of...