Treaty how?

Ravi de Costa, McMaster University


Proponents of treaties in Australia have usually emphasised the principled relations between Indigenous and settler peoples that treaties may bring about. More recently, they have argued that treaty-making would be a more effective framework for Indigenous social policy. However, proponents of treaties have not carefully considered why the Australian state (or States) might need to enter into treaties. Historically, treaties have not been the high-water mark of the relationship between Indigenous and settler peoples. Rather, colonising states have entered treaties primarily as a means of managing their own (state) interests. Evidence from the history of treaty-making in British Columbia suggests that Australian treaty proponents need to demonstrate why treaties are in the best interest of the Australian state, and are unlikely to achieve their goal until they do.

Ravi de Costa is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition at McMaster University. He can be contacted at <>.

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