Fragile Settlements

Aboriginal Peoples, Law, and Resistance in South-West Australia and Prairie Canada

Amanda Nettelbeck, Russell C. Smandych, Louis A. Knafla, and Robert Foster

  • Published: August 2016
  • Subject Listing: Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 336 pp., 14 illus., 3 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Fragile Settlements compares the processes through which British colonial authority was asserted over Indigenous peoples in southwest Australia and prairie Canada from the 1830s to the early twentieth century. At the start of this period, as a humanitarian response to settlers' increased demand for land, Britain's Colonial Office moved to protect Indigenous peoples by making them subjects under British law. This book highlights the parallels and divergences between these connected British frontiers by examining how colonial actors and institutions interpreted and applied the principle of law in their interaction with Indigenous peoples "on the ground."
Amanda Nettelbeck is professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide. Russell C. Smandych is professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba. Louis A. Knafla is professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. Robert Foster is associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Adelaide.

"Fragile Settlements makes an important contribution to the growing field of transcolonial studies by bringing into conversation the legal histories of the dispossession of Indigenous peoples in south-west Australia and western Canada. The authors provide critical insight into the ways in which the various forms of legal colonial governance played out in two locales. This work is an important one for anyone considering how the legal histories of the past can better inform our understanding of clashes over sovereignty and jurisdiction in the present."
-Shaunnagh Dorsett, coauthor of Property Law in New South Wales

"The authors of Fragile Settlements tackle what few legal scholars have attempted - regional comparisons - and they do it very well. They ambitiously and successfully set out to uncover how contemporary experiences of "imperfect sovereignty" in both Australia and Canada can be traced to their parallel histories of Aboriginal subjugation through law and other forms of settler governance."
-Peter Karsten, author of Between Law and Custom: "High" and "Low" Legal Cultures in the Lands of the British Diaspora - The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 1600-1900

Introduction: Settler Colonialism and its Legacies

1. British Law and Colonial Legal Regimes
2. The Foundations of Colonial Policing
3. Policing Aboriginal People on the Settler Frontier
4. Co-Optive Policing: "Native Police," Trackers and Scouts
5. Agents of Protection and Civilization
6. Aboriginal Peoples and Settlers in the Courts
7. Agents of the Church
8. Agency and Resistance: Aboriginal Responses to Colonial Authority
9. Colonizing and Decolonizing the Past

Conclusion: Spaces of Indigenous and Settler Law

Index of Statutes, Treaties, Charters, and Proclamations
Table of Reported Cases