Colonialism and State Dependency

  • Gerald Taiaiake Alfred School of Indigeous Governance, University of Victoria
Keywords: Decolonization, social suffering, cultural restoration, resurgence, regeneration


This paper conceptualizes colonialism from an indigenous perspective and analyses the effects of colonization on First Nations, with particular focus on explaining the fundamental roots of the psychophysical crises and dependency of First Nations upon the state. Central to its analysis is the effect of colonially-generated cultural disruptions that compound the effects of dispossession to create near total psychological, physical and financial dependency on the state. The paper argues that it is the cumulative and ongoing effects of this crisis of dependency that form the context of First Nations existences today. Social suffering, unresolved psychophysical harms of historical trauma and cultural dislocation are identified as the main sources of a crisis in which First Nations’ opportunities for self-sufficient, healthy and autonomous lives on individual and collective levels are extremely limited because Indigenous people have developed complexes of behaviour and mental attitudes that reflect their colonial situation. Through a review and consideration of the scholarly literature, it identifies a direct relationship between government laws and policies applied to Indigenous peoples and the myriad mental and physical health problems and economic deprivations. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for developing policy responses to the situation which are oriented towards supporting and facilitating Indigenous people’s reconnection to their homelands, restoration of land-based cultural practices and the rebuilding of indigenous communities.