- Describe the various acts that eventually led to a legal definition of status and non-status Indians.
Answer: The first was the 1850 Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada which provided a fairly broad definition of who was considered an “Indian”, including persons who intermarried with Indians and lived among them. Given that this definition contradicted the aims of assimilation, it was further revised to exclude non-Indians living with First Nations and drew the first boundary between status and non-status; namely, status Indians were those who were officially registered. Furthermore, this revision stipulated that ancestry was determined by the male line. The 1850 Act was followed by An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in this Province, and to Amend the Laws Respecting Indians in 1857. This Act introduced the provision that enabled Indians to give up their status in exchange for the right to vote. These Acts culminated in the first Indian Act which was passed in 1876 and continued to include various provisions aimed at enfranchisement (meaning losing status) and ultimate assimilation.
- Discuss the case of First Nations north of Lake Superior who lobbied the government for the right to control the resources on their land.
Answer: In 1846, Chief Shingwaukonse of Garden River near Sault Ste Marie, as well as other Ojibwe leaders, insisted that the revenues from local mining leases should be paid to them. These leases had been granted without their permission or consideration. The Ojibwe also resisted land settlements that were granted in 1849 without their permission or consultation. The failure of the colonial government to meet these requests led to a confrontation and eventual military response, sometimes referred to as the Michipicoten War.
- Explain the implications of “Indian” policy for the two Canadas (Upper and Lower) being administered from London until 1860.
Answer: Until 1860, “Indian” policy was administered from London. In Canada, the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada also served as the superintendent-general of Indian Affairs. This meant that he acted on behalf of both the Crown and First Nations. His dual role was in conflict since those interests were mutually exclusive. Furthermore, funding for Aboriginal affairs came from five different sources, complicating support for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. The marginalization of Indian Affairs continued well into the twentieth century despite the transfer of control of Indian Affairs to Canada in 1860.