Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act #1-7

June 1 Imposed the elected chief and band council system In 1869, the Indian Act imposed the elected chief and band council system, similar to municipal-style governments where a leader and council members are elected. Initially, elections were to be held annually, but in 1898, it was changed to every three years. In 1951, it was changed to every two years, which is how it remains today. What negative impacts does this system have on communities? June 2 Denied women status The Indian Act has subjected generations of Indigenous women and their children to a legacy of discrimination – and continues to do so today. Bob Joseph writes, “Indian Act regulations devalue women and are considered the primary cause of the vulnerability of Indigenous women today.” How has the Indian Act impacted Indigenous women? June 3 Created reserves Reserves were first established in 1876 and allowed the government to contain Indigenous Peoples and relocate them to make way for settlers. It also upended how Indigenous Peoples lived. What’s one way the reserve system changed how Indigenous Peoples lived? June 4 Encouraged voluntary and enforced enfranchisement Status Indians were not considered “people” under Canadian laws until the Indian Act was revised in 1951. In fact, prior to 1951, the Indian Act defined a “person” as “an individual other than an Indian.” What does it mean that Indigenous Peoples had to give their Indian status – and all associated legal rights, benefits and restrictions – to be considered “people?” June 5 Could expropriate portions of reserves for public works “Land. If you understand nothing else about the history of Indians in North America, you need to understand the question that really matters is the question of land.” -- Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. The government manipulated the Indian Act to suits its needs, evident through its ability to expropriate reserve land for public works. What does this tell you about the role land played in the treatment of Indigenous Peoples? June 6 Renamed individuals with European names In the 19th century, the Indian Act was primarily concerned with assimilating Indigenous Peoples, including registering Indians to extinguish traditional ties and to rid of names that were confusing and difficult for Euro-Canadians to pronounce. What did you learn about renaming Indigenous Peoples with European names in this section? June 7 Created a permit system to control Indians’ ability to sell products from farms Bob Joseph writes, “Agriculture was one objective chosen as the path for Indians to follow to become ‘civilized.’” Despite this objective, Indigenous Peoples and communities were not set up to succeed on this path. How did this permit system discourage their opportunities?
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