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The Indian Act

Owing to the development of Canada in 1867, the rights of managing the aboriginal affairs, resided with the federal government. Since then, the Indian Act (enacted in 1876) has undergone several amendments and this has given the government, the rights to control almost all the major aspects of aboriginal life- like the land, resources, education facility, administration of the band, status of Indians and even their wills.

To legally and federally be recognized as an Indian, in Canada, one needs to abide by all the rules and the regulations and the standards of living that are imposed by the government. To ensure this, the Indian Act was passed, not merely as a body of law but as a sole controller of each and every aspect of the life of the Indians. In the older versions of this act, the norms on bringing together the First Nations, were mentioned.

The people who successfully completed and got a degree from the University, were liable to lose their Indian Status while the women who married the non status men, were liable to lose their status as well.

The Act implied the rule that if a woman married an aboriginal man, then her Indian status would remain intact and she would receive cultural as well as social benefits but if any woman marries a white (European), she would lose her Indian status and would be considered as the member of Canadian society.

The halfbreed Indians, also called as the M├ętis, were denied Indian status. The Indian Act aimed to combine all the already prevalent legislations that covered the First Nations and their existing relationship with Canada.

The Act came into being with the target of helping the aboriginals to the protect the land that was left with them. However, the main owner of the land, remained the Crown. The administration of the land was supposed to be done by the Crown via the Minister of Indian Affairs, who was an Indian Agent.

The Act tried to vest more power in the hands of the local government but simultaneously it took away the existing powers by appointing an Indian agent as the chairman of the counsil. According to the rules listed in the Act, the Indians were not allowed to sell or produce goods if they did not have written permission from the local Indian agent. Moreover, the status Indians were denied the right to vote until 1961.

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