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Social Studies/Native Studies (SS/NS) Department
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Two recent books, Dances with Dependency by Calvin Helin and Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry by Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard, have helped put the spotlight on a vast cadre of lawyers, consultants, historians, anthropologists, educators, and other so-called experts who earn their living by serving, or at worst exploiting, the needs of aboriginal people in Canada. According to the authors, it is an “industry” that has grown in response to, and helps perpetuate, the economic and political isolation and dependency of aboriginal people across the country.
This focus on the negative implications of the “industry” has sparked a strong reaction, some of it quite vitriolic, from a variety of people, who have registered their assessment of the books on blogs, articles in newspapers, and letters to the editor. For educators and their students, this is a not-to-be missed opportunity to analyse the debate. Timely and controversial, it piques interest. More importantly, when people become polarised on an issue, a wide range of perspectives become public. Consequently, this becomes a ready-made data base for the development of critical thinking skills. Through careful analysis of what people write and how they argue their positions, students and their teachers can hone their analytical skills and become the critical readers we so desperately need to keep our democracy safe. See below:
Last updated: February 8, 2010