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Researchers examine the growing phenomenon of “self-Indigenization” – University Affairs

by ahnationtalk on April 7, 202096 Views

The trend seems to be particularly prevalent in Eastern Canada and among those claiming Métis ancestry.

Just as a number of media outlets in Quebec were reporting on people who were apparently appropriating Indigenous identities for themselves, Darryl Leroux published a book in which he analyzes this phenomenon of “self-Indigenization.” In Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, published last September, the Saint Mary’s University associate professor explores multiple genealogy forums to describe this process of self-Indigenization, i.e., the decision to suddenly identify as Indigenous without official recognition. He also analyzes hundreds of documents from two lawsuits initiated by self-styled Métis organizations that claim hunting, fishing and land rights, even to the detriment of other Aboriginal groups living in the areas in question.

Shifting identities

Self-indigenization is defined as suddenly claiming an Indigenous identity by invoking tenuous links. This practice appears to be particularly common in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and along the American East Coast. Although self-indigenization does occur in Western Canada as well, race-shifting is less common there, according to Dr. Leroux, in part because of the greater presence of Aboriginal peoples in that part of the country.

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