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Indigenous Sovereignty: Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997)

"[A]boriginal title arises out of prior occupation of the land by aboriginal peoples and out of the relationship between the common law and pre-existing systems of aboriginal law. Aboriginal title is a burden on the Crown’s underlying title. However, the Crown did not gain this title until it asserted sovereignty over the land in question. Because it does not make sense to speak of a burden on the underlying title before that title existed, aboriginal title crystallized at the time sovereignty was asserted" (1098).

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010

"Sovereignty is pretty powerful stuff. Its mere assertion by one nation is said to bring another's land rights to a 'definite and permanent form;' simply conjuring sovereignty is enough to change an ancient peoples' relationship with their land. A society under sovereignty's spell is ostensibly transformed, for use and occupation are found to be extinguished, infringed, or made subject to another's designs. How can lands possessed by Aboriginal peoples for centuries be undermined by another nation's assertion of sovereignty? What alchemy transmutes the basis of Aboriginal possession into the golden bedrock of Crown title?" (558).

Borrows, John. "Sovereignty's Alchemy: An Analysis of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia." Osgoode Hall Law Journal, vol. 37, no. 3, Fall 1999, pp. 537-596.