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A 1973 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on a request by the Nisga'a peoples of British Columbia for a declaration that legal title to their land had not been lawfully extinguished. The decision considerably advanced the position of Natives in their claims that aboriginal ownership of land had been continuous and had survived European colonization. Six of the seven judges agreed that aboriginal legal ownership of the land had existed prior to the arrival of Europeans. In deciding whether this legal ownership still existed, three judges stated that they did still own the land and the other three argued that Natives had ceded effective control to the Crown and implicit extinguishment had taken place (the seventh judge ruled on a technical matter so did not address the question of legal ownership). In 1974, largely in response to this decision, the federal government established an office to deal with Native land claims. In 1996 the Nisga'a people, the federal government and the province of British Columbia reached an agreement, in principle, that would settle land claims.

Last updated 2002--0-9-

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
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*This social science dictionary has 1000
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