Aboriginal self-determination and autonomy

Learn the meaning of self-determination and why Aboriginal nations declared independence. What is a treaty or truth-telling, and will it help?

Selected statistics

Percentage of surveyed Australians in the general community who agree it is important for Aboriginal people to have a say in matters that affect them.
Same figure for surveyed Aboriginal people.

List of articles

Self-determination in the USA

There is "ample evidence" that the US policy of self-determination, formally adopted in the 1970s, is the only US Indian policy ever linked to sustained improvements in socioeconomic conditions in Indian communities.

The North American experience shows that self-determination pays off, provided that Aboriginal tribes not only assume responsibility for their own affairs but invest time and energy in building governing institutions that can capably exercise decision-making power and that have the support of their own peoples. Non-Aboriginal governments must then take self-determination seriously.

Dozens of treaties have been signed in the United States and Canada which afford First Nations communities varying degrees of genuine self-determination, from controlling their own schooling to giving them a real capacity to generate an economic base.

There are more than 250 Native American tribal courts across at least 32 states in the US, which handle everything from criminal matters to family court.

Native American corporations and individuals are exempt from various state and federal taxes, including state income tax for people living on reservations.


The Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements database (ATNS) offers a wealth of information relating to agreements between Aboriginal people and others in Australia and overseas.

It includes background information on each agreement; links to related agreements, organisations, signatories and events; a glossary of relevant terminology as well as direct access to published and on-line resources.

Reconciliation Australia has a section on Aboriginal governance called the Indigenous Governance Toolkit.

It is Australia's only comprehensive online resource aimed at strengthening Aboriginal community and organisational governance. The toolkit provides stories about what works, case studies, resources, videos and templates.


View article sources (1)

[1] [1a] '2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer', Reconciliation Australia

Cite this page

Korff, J 2020, Aboriginal self-determination and autonomy, <https://mail.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/selfdetermination>, retrieved 14 July 2024

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