The Indian Act (An Act respecting Indians, French: Loi sur les Indiens) is a Canadian
The Act is very wide-ranging in scope, covering governance, land use, healthcare, education, and more on Indian reserves. Notably, the original Indian Act does two things affecting all
The Act's existence is necessitated by the fact that
John A Macdonald, 1887
The Act was first passed in 1876 as a consolidation of various laws concerning indigenous peoples enacted by the separate colonies of British North America prior to
The idea of enfranchisement predated the 1876 version of the Act and survived in some form until 1985. Upon the introduction in 1857 by the
Reserves, under this legislation, were islands within Canada to which were attached a different set of rights. "Enfranchisement" derives from the idea of "franchise", which has gradually been degraded as "vote". Indigenous people with the franchise were allowed to vote for representatives, were expected to pay taxes and lived "off-reserve". By contrast, groups of people who lived on a reserve were subject to a different set of rights and obligations. One needed to descend from an Indian to be allowed to live on a reserve.
The tenure of land in a reserve was limited to the collective, or tribe, by virtue of a Crown protectorate. Interactions between enfranchised citizens and Indians were subject to strict controls; for example, the enfranchised were forbidden by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to traffic in alcohol or land with Indians. It was hoped through means of