The Indian Act Timeline 1755- 1951

By jjaela
  • Indian Department

    Also known as the British Indian Department, it was established in 1755 to maintain diplomatic relations between Indigenous nations of North America and the British Empire. It also played a military role, such as mobilizing allied indigenous warriors in wars. In 1860, control of the department was ceded to the Province of Canada.
  • Royal Proclamation

    Issued by King George III, the treaty politically organized the British's newly acquired territorials from the Treaty of Paris. It regarded Aboriginal rights, in which stated that Indigenous people reserved all lands not ceded by or purchased from them, as well as promising First Nations a degree of land security and protection.
  • Treaty of Niagara

    Signed and represented by Sir William Johnson and representatives of 24 First Nations in Niagara, the Treaty of Niagara led to the acceptance and understanding of the Royal Proclamation by Indigenous people. The Indigenous surrendered land and became allies with the British, who assured them that trade would be regulated and continued, and promised the crown's protection. It was eventually entered into the wampum.
  • Indian Removal Act

    Approved and enforced by President Andrew Jackson. It enabled forced removal of Native Tribes from their lands in the lands west of the Mississippi River by offering them unsettled western prairie land-- so as to make American expansion easier. Originally it was for negotiation between the two forces, but it eventually resorted to forced compliance. It was clear that they were undesirable for white men, even if they were peaceful tribes.
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    Bagot Commission Report

    Named for Sir. Charles Bagot and presented to the Legislative Assembly, the Bagot Commission proposes that separating indigenous children from their parents is the best way to assimilate them. It was also suggested that Canada's first residential school system, the Mohawk institute, be a model for other schools.
  • Ryerson Report

    Egerton Ryerson reiterated the idea from the Bagot commission (1842-44) in his report on Native Education. He also recommended that Aboriginal education focus on religion instruction and on agricultural training. He has played a big part in establishing residential schools by providing recommendations that were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indigenous Residential School System.
  • Gradual Civilization act

    Passed by the 5th Parliament of the Province of Canada, the act requires male First Nations and Metis to be able to write and speak either English or French in order to be legally recognized. It encourages enfranchisement and aims to assimilate indigenous people to the economic and social customs of European settler society, as well as removing their rights in exchange for home steading and voting privileges.
  • Constitution act, 1867

    Originally known as British North America Act, it is a law passed by the British Parliament enabling the creation of the Dominion of Canada. It outlines the structure of Canada's government and distribution of powers between the parliament and legislation. It made the federal government responsible for the First Nations, where "enfranchised" Indigenous people lost their status and indigenous rights.
  • Gradual Enfranchisement Act

    The Gradual Enfranchisement Act established elected band councils, as well as several policies that supervises Indigenous people in Canada. It also defined lineage by the men of each band or body regardless of his kinship rules, and clearly introduces disenfranchisement of Indigenous women who marry outside their First Nation, as well as their children.
  • The Indian act

    The Original Indian Act is very wide-ranging in scope and covers elements including Indian status, reserves and bands. It gave the government powers over First Nations identity, political structure, governance, cultural practices and education- ability to limit indigenous rights, freedoms and benefits, determined by officials. The act attempted to assimilate people into non-indigenous society by removing their cultures and traditions.
  • Residential schools

    Although the first residential school opened in 1831, the term usually refers to schools established after 1880, after the Indian act in 1876, by Christian churches and the Canadian government in attempt to educate and assimilate indigenous youth. A majority of the schools mentally and physically abuse its students, making the experience traumatic for many people. The last school closed in 1996.
  • Indian Act: Permit system

    Indigenous people are expected to have a permit in order to sell products such as cattle, grain or hay- or to purchase goods like groceries and clothes. Any person who" buys from any Indian contrary to regulations under this act is guilty of an offence" and has a highest punishment of imprisonment of 3 months.
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    Potlatch Law

    The federal government banned the potlatch, a ceremonial practice among First Nations held on important occasions such as marriages, births and funerals as part of the policy of assimilation. They saw it as anti-Christian, reckless and wasteful of personal property and failed to understand its symbolic importance. Before it was repealed, it damaged and disrupted traditional indigenous identities and social relations.
  • Amendments to the Indian Act: Mandatory residential school

    The Indian Act was amended to combat low indigenous attendance at residential schools. It became compulsory for indigenous children to attend one and it is illegal for them to attend any other educational institution. They were forcibly taken by priests, agents, and police officers.
  • Amendments to the Indian Act: Lawyers

    The Indian act was amended again to prevent anyone from soliciting funds for Indian Legal claims, including hiring lawyers to pursue land claims. Special licenses have to be issued from the government for requests to do so.
  • Revision of Indian Act

    Following WW2, the government reconsidered some of the restrictive and oppressive measures imposed by the Indian Act. They consulted First Nations about changes to the Indian Act. Ultimately, it removed the most offensive political, cultural and religious restrictions like the potlatch and sun dance; they were also granted rights to bring land claims to the government. However, it did not solve many discrimination issues.