Concept

Indian Act

Summary
The Indian Act (Loi sur les Indiens, long name An Act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians) is a Canadian act of Parliament that concerns registered Indians, their bands, and the system of Indian reserves. First passed in 1876 and still in force with amendments, it is the primary document that defines how the Government of Canada interacts with the 614 First Nation bands in Canada and their members. Throughout its long history, the act has been a subject of controversy and has been interpreted in different ways by both Indigenous Canadians and non-Indigenous Canadians. The legislation has been amended many times, including "over five major changes" made in 2002. The act is very wide-ranging in scope, covering governance, land use, healthcare, education, and more on Indian reserves. Notably, the original Indian Act defines two elements that affect all Indigenous Canadians:
  • It says how reserves and bands can operate. The act sets out rules for gove
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