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Social Science Native American Studies

From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation

A Road Map for All Canadians

by (author) Greg Poelzer & Ken S. Coates

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
Native American Studies, Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Policy
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2016
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
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Canada is a country founded on relationships and agreements between Indigenous people and newcomers. Although recent court cases have strengthened Aboriginal rights, the cooperative spirit of the treaties is being lost as Canadians engage in endless arguments about First Nations “issues.” Greg Poelzer and Ken Coates breathe new life into these debates by looking at approaches that have failed and succeeded in the past and offering all Canadians – from policy makers to concerned citizens – realistic steps forward. The road ahead is clear: if all Canadians take up their responsibilities as treaty peoples, Canada will become a leader among treaty nations

About the authors

Greg Poelzer is a leading expert on Circumpolar affairs and the politics of the modern North. He has many years of experience in Russia and Scandinavia and has a long-standing interest in Arctic affairs in Canada. He is also founding Dean of Undergraduate Affairs for the University of the Arctic. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Saskatchewan.

Greg Poelzer's profile page

Ken S. Coates was raised in Whitehorse and has a long-standing interest in northern themes. Titles include Canada’s Colonies, The Sinking of the Princess Sophia, The Modern North, North to Alaska (on the building of the Alaska Highway) and many academic books. He has worked on north-centred television documentaries and served as a consultant to northern governments and organizations. He is currently Professor of History and Dean of Arts, University of Waterloo.

Ken S. Coates' profile page


  • Short-listed, J.W. Dafoe Prize, The Dafoe Foundation
  • Short-listed, University of Regina Arts and Luther College Award for Scholarly Writing, Saskatchewan Book Awards
  • Short-listed, The Donner Prize, The Donner Foundation

Editorial Reviews

… a welcome help to understanding ourselves as a nation and as individuals … Greg Poelzer and Ken Coates offer an accessible primer to the many ways Canada’s Indigenous peoples are retaking charge of their lives.

Canada’s History

The greatest value of this volume [is that] it seeks to force productive debate, not fruitless fingerpointing and rancor. Whether or not it succeeds in doing so for Canada remains to be seen. Whether the United States, including the many indigenous peoples in the Great Plains, takes notice and begins more meaningful discussions of Americans as “Treaty Peoples” and a “Treaty Nation” likewise remains unclear. As a region with strong indigenous history and presence, these are debates worth having — on both sides of the border.

Great Plains Research

The book provides an excellent summary of the work of various Canadian Indigenous political scholars such as Kiera Ladner, Bonita Beaty, Dan Russell, John Borrows and Glenn Coulthard. The treaty theme runs throughout the book, with historical and contemporary examples. This allows the reader to understand the past but also facilitates awareness of the modern-day treaty process that is underway in some parts of Canada.

Alberta Views, Vol. 19 No. 10

What is clear from this survey is that no consensus exists around how to improve Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations. This sketch by Poelzer and Coates does, however, do more than provide the reader with a useful review of proposals aimed at solving the “Indian problem” in Canada; it allows the authors to situate their own approach within a very complex debate characterised by a diversity of opinions (both within the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal intellectual communities). From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation’s originality flows from its focus on the practical elements of these problems. By contrast, most other scholars’ approaches are philosophical, idealistic, and theoretical … With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s release of its Final Report earlier this year, Poelzer and Coates’ work could not be timelier.

Saskatchewan Law Review

Other titles by Greg Poelzer

Other titles by Ken S. Coates