Table of contents

Introduction. “This Is Our Land”: Aboriginal Title at Customary and Common Law in Comparative Contexts / Louis A. Knafla

Part 1: Sovereignty, Extinguishment, and Expropriation of Aboriginal Title

1 From the US Indian Claims Commission Cases to Delgamuukw: Facts, Theories, and Evidence in North American Land Claims / Arthur Ray

2 Social Theory, Expert Evidence, and the Yorta Yorta Rights Appeal Decision / Bruce Rigsby

3 Law’s Infidelity to Its Past: The Failure to Recognize Indigenous Jurisdiction in Australia and Canada / David Yarrow

4 The Defence of Native Title and Dominion in Sixteenth-Century Mexico Compared with Delgamuukw / Haijo Westra

5 Beyond Aboriginal Title in Yukon: First Nations Land Registries / Brian Ballantyne

Part 2: Native Land, Litigation, and Indigenous Rights

6 The “Race” for Recognition: Toward a Policy of Recognition of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada / Paul L. A.H. Chartrand

7 The Sources and Content of Indigenous Land Rights in Australia and Canada: A Critical Comparison / Kent McNeil

8 Common Law, Statutory Law, and the Political Economy of the Recognition of Indigenous Australian Rights in Land / Nicolas Peterson

9 Claiming Native Title in the Foreshore and Seabed / Jacinta Ruru

10 Waterpower Developments and Native Water Rights Struggles in the North American West in the Early Twentieth Century: A View from Three Stoney Nakoda Cases / Kenichi Matsui

Conclusion. Power and Principle: State-Indigenous Relations across Time and Space / Peter W. Hutchins

Selected Bibliography; General Index; Index of Cases; Index of Statutes, Treaties, and Agreements

An enriching study of Aboriginal people’s struggles for land rights that examines their historical development in a comparative, international context.


Delgamuukw. Mabo. Ngati Apa. Recent cases have created a framework for litigating Aboriginal title in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The distinguished group of scholars whose work is showcased here, however, shows that our understanding of where the concept of Aboriginal title came from – and where it may be going – can also be enhanced by exploring legal developments in these former British colonies in a comparative, multidisciplinary framework. This path-breaking book offers a perspective on Aboriginal title that extends beyond national borders to consider similar developments in common law countries.


The book is a major contribution to the widespread controversies over how the contemporary state and minority peoples/nations within it can come to an enduring rapprochement…the editors and contributors have produced a volume that should be on the bookshelf of every serious scholar studying Aboriginal issues.

- Alan Cairns

This collection offers a welcome contribution to the growing literature on comparative Indigenous rights frameworks…it should help stimulate further thinking that crosses national and disciplinary borders while addressing issues of interest to the Great Plains.

- Dwight Newman, University of Saskatchewan