Political Apologies to Indigenous Peoples in Comparative Perspective

58 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011 Last revised: 15 Apr 2011

Date Written: April 21, 2011


This paper compares three recent government apologies made to indigenous peoples in Australia (2008), Canada (2008), and the U.S. (2009). All of these apologies were the second iterations of earlier ones made in Australia in 1997, Canada in 1998, and the U.S. in 2003 The paper compares the texts and contexts of these apologies (who delivered them and in what setting and to what audience), and the political dynamics associated with them to assess the meaning and effectiveness of apologies as a first step toward achieving political reconciliation and intercultural justice. It addresses how and why the first and second versions of the apologies in each country differed, and tries to explain why the Canadian apology, the only one of the three apologies that was accompanied by compensation, was the most robust of the three, and why the U.S. apology was the weakest of the three. The paper also analyzes these three recent apologies in terms of what some scholars have termed "The Age of Apology," or the increasingly frequent attempts to address grievances arising from wrongs committed by oppressive or genocidal actions between nations, or between races within nations, by using an apology.

Suggested Citation

Tager, Michael, Political Apologies to Indigenous Peoples in Comparative Perspective (April 21, 2011). Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1767190

Michael Tager (Contact Author)

Marietta College ( email )

United States

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