An Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada: (1850) The first Canadian legislation in which the idea of “status” Indians emerges.
An Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of the Indians and the Better Management of Indian Affairs: (1869) An act intended to socially engineer Indigenous populations out of their sovereignty, traditional forms of governance, cultures, languages, collective land use, and treaty rights to conform to and vanish into Canadian society. The Act imposed an elected system of governance that would later become part of the Indian Act, and multiple means by which Indigenous individuals could be enfranchised—given Canadian citizenship while giving up their treaty rights and Indigenous status. By 1920 only about 250 Indigenous people had chosen to enfranchise.
An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes of the Canadas: (1851) The first act to introduce the idea of enfranchisement, or giving Indigenous Peoples land and the right to vote in exchange for surrendering their treaty rights.
Bagot Commission: (1842–44) Commission headed by Sir Charles Bagot (1781–1843) that examined “Indian administration” and affirmed commitment to compensate Indigenous Peoples for their lands per the Royal Proclamation while doubling down on the government’s assimilation policy.
Canada First: A Protestant nationalist movement (1850s–1875) that, among other things, campaigned to annex Red River under Canadian authority without the rights similar to those of Quebec, which the largely Catholic and French-speaking Métis sought to maintain.
Comité National des Métis: (Métis National Committee) Association formed in 1869 with John Bruce as president and Louis Riel as secretary, and actively supported by Abbé Joseph-Noël Ritchot (1825–1905) of St Norbert, for the purpose of negotiating with the federal government concerning the rights of the residents of Red River.
Dakhóta Uprising: (1862) When the US government failed to provide annuities to the Minnesota Dakhóta in 1862, the starving Dakhóta, denied help from the Minnesota government, left their reservation and began raiding for food. While most of the Dakhóta spoke English, the German and Scandinavian settlers near them did not. Shots were fired to prevent theft, and a general uprising ensued. It was brutally put down by the Minnesota militia, who hung 39 leaders and warriors in the largest mass execution in US history. When the Minnesotans finally released them from prison camps at Fort Snelling and Fort Mankato, many Dakhóta left the state, some to the west, and hundreds came north to Canada carrying their medals from the War of 1812 to request asylum.
Declaration of the People of Rupert’s Land and the North-West: (1869) A declaration of intent to form an Independent government in response to the transfer of Rupert’s Land to the Dominion without consultation with the Métis of Red River or their First Nations allies. This led to the quick passage of the Manitoba Act, creating the province of Manitoba, which has many treaty-like characteristics that, like treaty provisions, have not always been honoured.
Dominion Lands Act: (1872) Passed in the aftermath of establishing the Province of Manitoba to determine who living in that territory could keep their lands following Treaty One. The Dominion Lands Act protected the lands of anyone who had settled in the region before 1870, as demonstrated through building construction and land cultivation, and allowed the owners to keep the original boundaries of their claims. In the case of the Métis, who used French-style ribbon lots to maximize the number of people with river frontage for travel, this was important, as Canadian survey teams laid out the property lines in the new province according to square British land use.
enfranchisement: Under the Indian Act, the act of granting a status Indian the rights of full Canadian citizens at the expense of their status and treaty rights.
Fraser gold rush: (1858) An influx of 25,000 gold-seeking settlers swarmed in among the Indigenous miners on unceded territory in British Columbia, increasing tensions.
Fraser River War: (Canyon War, 1858) Following months of tension with the inconsiderate miners, the Nlaka’pamux Salish retaliated when one of the women from their community was raped by a group of American miners and murdered a few of the miners. This caused a panic that resulted in the signing of the Snyder Treaties, of which no copies have survived.
Laws of the Prairies: (mid-nineteenth century) Métis system for governing bison hunts sustainably through consensual democracy on an annual basis. This system was later adopted by Gabriel Dumont in 1885, and influenced the system of government the Manitoba Métis Federation uses today.
Manitoba Act: (1870) Created the first post-Confederation Canadian province. The Act, to some degree a response to the Métis assertion of self-governance at Red River, contains many treaty-like characteristics such as setting aside 1.4 million acres (566,560 ha) for Métis families, which was accomplished through the poorly designed issuing of Scrip, which allowed many avenues for Métis people to be defrauded of their rights. The Act was constitutionally on shaky ground until the signing of Treaty One later that year through which the First Nations ceded the land that comprised the new province.
Michipicoten War: (1849) a peaceful encounter at Mica Bay in which Anishinaabeg leaders asked employees at a mine in Mica Bay to cease and desist from any mining until a treaty had been signed ceding the land and mineral rights. The encounter was exaggerated into an “Indian Massacre” by the press. The 1850 Robinson-Huron Treaty settled the outstanding issues.
non-status Indian: A person who has either lost status through enfranchisement or restrictions in past versions of the Indian Act, or who has been born to parents without qualifying status under the Act.
Riel, Louis: (1844–85) Métis leader, founder of the province of Manitoba, and spiritual leader of the 1869–70 Riel Rebellion and the 1885 Northwest Resistance; hanged for treason on 16 November 1885. His father, Louis Riel Sr, had also been a leader in the Métis community.
river lots: The French system of surveying long lots about 200 metres wide to maximize the number of lots with River Frontage. This created problems as British and later US and Canadian authorities extended governance over formerly French regions and surveyed the land in squares as the two systems were in conflict. The result was significant displacement of French-speaking and Métis residents with insufficient compensation.
Robinson Treaties: Two treaties negotiated by William Benjamin Robinson. Lake Superior chiefs signed the Robinson-Superior Treaty, 7 September 1850; chiefs from the Lake Huron region signed the Robinson-Huron Treaty, 9 September 1850.
Scrip: Document used as evidence that the holder or bearer is entitled to receive either cash or an allotment of land. Used in Métis land settlements.
Shingwaukonse: (Little Pine, 1773–1854) Ogimaa of Garden River who prevented a conflict with the Americans in 1820; requested a “Teaching Wigwam Lodge” for his community to learn to speak and read English in 1832; prevented federal surveyor Alexander Vidal from assisting with mineral exploration in the mid 1840s, citing the 1763 Proclamation and 1764 Treaty of Niagara; petitioned the governor-general for a share in the mineral profits from any mining conducted at Mica Bay for his people in 1848; and published a petition in the Montreal Gazette and the Colonial Intelligencer in 1849, the same year as he along with two other leaders, named Nebenaigoching and Oshawano, went to Mica Bay to stop the mining in a peaceful encounter sometimes referred to as the Michipicoten War. This led to the negotiation of the Robinson-Huron Treaty in 1850 for which he is one of the signatories.
status Indian: A person who is recognized as a registered Indian entitled to band membership and falls under the full scope of the Indian Act according to the regulations of the Indian Act, though birth or (until 1985) marriage.
wardship: The state of being under the legal protection of another person, group of people, or government. In the case of First Nations people, the term refers to the relationship between First Nations and the colonial or Canadian government, who did not view them as capable of exercising full self-governance. As a result, particularly during the nineteenth century, laws were put into place that allowed the federal government to manage Indigenous lands and financial revenues on their behalf. This has led to many lawsuits and a shift toward returning self-governance rights to Indigenous communities
“White man’s burden”: A phrase first used by British poet Rudyard Kipling to describe what Britain saw as its paternalistic responsibilities with respect to the Indigenous people of the countries it colonized.