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Indian Act

From Academic Kids

The Indian Act of Canada (1876) (full title "An Act respecting Indians") is an Act which establishes the rights of registered Indians and of their bands. A large part of the Act deals with the rights of band members living on reserves. The Act is administered by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

An Indian whose name is in the Indian Register established by the Act is said to have Indian status or treaty status. An Indian who is not registered is said to be a non-status Indian. Prior to 1985 status was often lost in ways which are now considered unfair. The Act was amended in 1985 to restore status to people who had lost it in one of these ways, and to their children. The ways in which status were lost were:

  • marrying a man who was not a Status Indian
  • enfranchisement (until 1960, an Indian could vote in federal elections only by renouncing Indian status)
  • having a mother and paternal grandmother who did not have status before marriage (these people lost status at 21)
  • being born out of wedlock of a mother with status and a father without.

The act was at the centre of the 1969 supreme court case R. v. Drybones regarding the constitutionality of a clause forbidding Indians to be drunk off the reserve.

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