Why is it Difficult to Define an Aboriginal Person?

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Aboriginal peoples occupied Canadian lands long before the country was established and yet their position within Canadian hierarchy is often questioned. Colonialism imposed Euro-Canadian standards on First Nations peoples, challenging socio-cultural traditions and norms in the process. The implications of this decision propagate a longstanding marginalization of Aboriginal people, which is still experienced today (Frideres and Gasacz 1). Historical circumstances have created an unbalanced dichotomy of Aboriginal identity: what their identity means to Aboriginal people, versus what Canada, particularly the country’s policy-makers, desire them to be. This paper will outline why it is difficult to define an Aboriginal person as they are constantly faced with forcefully altered identities, definitions, and place amidst transcending political borders. The identities of Aboriginal peoples have always been complex, however the act of colonization hindered the separate understanding of Aboriginal groups, given that “the process of acculturation and the demise of indigenous Aboriginal tribal associations [has] eroded Aboriginal self-identification” (11) for some time. Aboriginal people lack a homogeneous worldview, which has challenged the idea of a single form of “Aboriginality” (25). Each group is very different; their locations, language, religious practices, and traditions play a major role in their contrasting identities. Their shared misrepresentation prevented the healthy

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