Indigenous Self-Determination and the State

Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives, 2009

CLPE Research Paper No. 25/2008

44 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2008 Last revised: 10 Oct 2019

See all articles by Shin Imai

Shin Imai

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: September 3, 2008


The right of indigenous self-determination is now accepted at both the national and international level, but the exercise of the right to self-determination does not connote any specific institutional arrangement. This chapter, from the forthcoming book, "Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives", (Hart Publishing, Oxford), describes a variety of arrangements in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Indigenous people have the greatest political autonomy in the sovereignty/self-government model found in the United States and in the latest self government agreements from Canada. The self-administration/self-management model provides for indigenous entities to deliver social services and educational services to their own communities. The co-management/joint management model provides for indigenous participation in the management of lands and resources. Finally, there are arrangements that provide for participation in public government. An example would be the guaranteed Maori seats in the legislature in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The chances of success for these initiatives are increased by ensuring that community member participate in the design and delivery. A scheme imposed from above will likely run into problems. During the period of implementation it is important to address issues relating to the identification of the appropriate group, the accountability of the indigenous institution to its own members and the role of women.

Keywords: Indigenous self-determination, self-administration, self-government, co-management, tribal government, Aboriginal, Maori, Indian, Inuit, Metis

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Imai, Shin, Indigenous Self-Determination and the State (September 3, 2008). Indigenous Peoples and the Law: Comparative and Critical Perspectives, 2009, CLPE Research Paper No. 25/2008, Available at SSRN:

Shin Imai (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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