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Indian Act 1876
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Indian Act 1876

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  1. Indian Act 1876

  2. Definitions • Inalienable Rights: guaranteed entitlements that cannot be transferred from one person to another • Franchise: the right to vote • Entrench: to protect and guarantee a right or a freedom by ensuring that it can be only changed by an amendment to the Constitution

  3. Indian Act 1876 • STATUS INDIAN - A Status Indian is a person defined as an Indian by the Indian Act and has been registered as an Indian by having h/her name either on a Band list or a General list, and having certain rights, restrictions and benefits under the Indian Act. Sometimes referred to as a Treaty Indian. Roughly 360,000 Status Indians in 1987. • ENFRANCHISED- Those Native people who were fortunate to be standing in line when the Indian Agents came to count heads in the late Nineteenth Century were enfranchised (recognized) as Status Indians. Others who were away for various reasons were never counted, and their descendants have paid the price ever since. 

  4. Facts about the Indian Act • Made by Parliament and not by Indian people. • Because Parliament is supreme in Canada, it can therefore change the Act without consultation with Indians. • Indian peoples' weapons against revision without their input is through provincial and national Indian organizations. • The Act is basically not the source of substantive or basic Indian rights; it merely tells how to administrate. • The Act has, however, been used through the courts, to erode substantive Indian rights. • The Act has certain provisions which preserve Indian rights. • There have been various other Federal Acts dealing with Indians since the early 1800's. • All these Acts down to the present one have been consistent in their goals of assimilation, integration and eventual abolition of reserves and of special rights for Indians."

  5. Facts about the Indian Act 1876( 2) Canada’s Indian Act is enacted which attempts to consolidate many Indian laws and makes Indians wards of the government. They are placed in a different legal category from all other Canadians; Act gives individual Natives the right to seek Canadian citizenship by renouncing their rights and privileges. In other words, assimilation into mainstream Canadian society and the loss of culture and all rights associated with a culture are the main themes. The Act governs all aspects of Native life including the denial of the right to vote in an election.

  6. Enfranchisement Women who married non-Native menand any children from that union lost their Status. These women were allowed to apply for re-enfranchisement through the passing of Bill C-31 in 1985 (an amendment to the Indian Act). Bill C-31 gave all first generation children of these marriages and Natives who were not counted and who now wished to regain status, the right to re-apply. Men who married non-Native womencould keep their status, and their white wives, in turn were automatically granted Indian Status. 

  7. CONSTITUTION ACT 1867 • Established the Parliamentary legislative jurisdiction over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians"; • Identified that 2 separate powers cover status and civil rights on the one hand and Indian lands on the other.

  8. Pondering the Citation INDIAN ACT 1876 "Instead of implementing the treaties and offering much needed protection to Indian rights the Indian Act subjugated to colonial rule the very people whose rights if was supposed to protect".  - Harold Cardinal

  9. Reflection Journal, Due Wednesday,7 • Read over the above-mentioned citation and elaborate how you understand the concept of the Indian act. • Was it there to protect or subjugate the Indian rights ? • How did it affect the Indian minority in general? • How does it make us ,Canadians ,look through the eyes of the Native people?

  10. POWER OF THE INDIAN AGENTS They had extraordinary administrative and discretionary powers to enforce the Indian Act and control every aspect of Indian life.

  11. Agents displaced traditional Aboriginal leaders so as to institute a new way of living consistent with the intentions of the government.In order to ensure this, Clause 25 of the Act established the government's guardianship over Indian lands. • Often used the distribution of rations as a weapon to impose federal authority on the Native population. Facing hunger and destitution, Natives were forced to bow to the control of the central government. • Full Justice of the Peace powers: Arresting Officer; Prosecutor and Judge. (Democracy at work!) • Powers to determine who qualified as a Status Indian. They did the original count that was so inaccurate and unfair that it continues to reverberate to this day. Enforcing the "blood quantum" - to qualify as an Indian, a person born after 1868 had to have at least one quarter Indian blood for status recognition.

  12. Interesting Historical Notes 1.  The Indian Act formed much of the basis for the introduction of oppressive apartheid policies against Black people in South Africa which lasted for decades. 2.  In 1969, all Indian Agents were withdrawn from reserves across Canada ending the government's overt paternalistic presence on First Nations lands.

  13. Major Amendments to the Indian Act Over the years there have been many amendments to the Indian Act, most of which were enacted to further oppress Indian people and remove basic rights accorded every other Canadian.

  14. 1884 - Ceremonies Banned Outlawed the Thirst Dance (Sun Dance); Potlatch (Chinook trading language, meaning ‘to give’) in British Columbia. Potlatch is the equivalent of title deeds and acts of succession. "Just as the eldest child of a reigning monarch cannot succeed to the British throne without sanction of the law, neither could the succession of a chief be recognized [without proper ceremony]." (Tom Molloy, The World Is Our Witness, pg. 25).

  15. 1911   Government Can Take What It Wants, When It Want Allowed portions of reserves to be expropriated by municipalities for roads, railways or other public purposes without Native consultation.

  16. 1920Enfranchisement Amendment Gave Native Men the right to vote, and become Canadian citizens, among other things if they give up their Indian status. (Translation: Dis-enfranchise the man, dis-enfranchise his wife and kids as well) This amendment was in force between 1920-1922 and 1933-1951. It was very unpopular and a complete failure as a result.

  17. Education "Day schools [established] in any Indian reserve for the children of such reserve."

  18. 1960 • Canadian Status Indians gain the right to vote in Federal Elections. (Note: This is in the lifetime of many of Thunderbird's gentle readers!) • Ottawa begins to phase out Residential Schools (the last one closes 1988)

  19. 1985BILL C-31 - MAJOR AMENDMENT TO CONSTITUTION ACT • Treats men and women equally; • Treats children equally whether born in or out of wedlock and whether they are natural or adopted; • Prevents anyone from gaining or losing status through marriage. In other words, Native women who have married non-Native men now have the right to retain their Native status, and to pass their status on to their children. This also gives them the right to return to their reserves. Many meet with opposition from reserve band councils.

  20. 1969 WHITE PAPER ON INDIAN POLICY • Called for an end to any special status for Native people. • Its aim was to quickly culturally assimilate Native people into mainstream Canadian society. • The Indian Act would be repealed. • Government management on reserve lands would be dismantled. • All federal responsibilities for Native people would end.

  21. BACKLASH FROM THE NATIVE COMMUNITY(and Canadian Society was quick and furious) • Native leaders accused the government of cultural genocide • White Paper was quickly withdrawn by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Indian Affairs Minister Jean Cretien. • Native people issued their own response (1970) called the "RED PAPER",calling for, among other things, Indigenous land title, and self-government.

  22. MEECH LAKE ACCORD - JUNE, 1990 Holding an eagle feather for spiritual strength, Cree, Elijah Harper, NCP member of the Manitoba legislature, voted 'no' to a procedural vote which required unanimity to extend discussion of the Meech Lake Accord recognizing Quebec as a ‘distinct society’. Native leaders saw nothing in the Accord that advancedtheirquest for self-government and recognition as a distinct society.

  23. CHARLOTTEOWN ACCORD - 1992 In the Charlottetown Accord constitutional process, Indigenous and government leaders held constitutional talks on a proposal that recognized Indigenous peoples' inherent right to self-government. Ultimately, Canadians rejected the accord in a national referendum.