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Indian Act Revision

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1977      v07 n01 p21  
Why are we changing the present Indian Act?

This is the big question being discussed among Indian people. Through extensive research and studies, it has become apparent this present Act has to be completely changed if we as Indian people want to get ahead socially and economically. Following is a list of facts relating to some reasons why this change has to come about.

The present Indian Act:

  1. Completely disregards our basic rights under our Treaties - it ignores our cultural values as Indians, i.e., "Treaty" not defined in present Act;
  2. Has obviously shown it was made under and geared for basic European values. Indian people were never involved in the making of this Act;
  3. Encourages the Canadian Bill of Rights to continue challenging our basic cultural rights as spelled out in our Treaties. We as Indian people have our own Bill of Rights;
  4. Encourages provincial laws and regulations to undermine our rights. i.e., health and welfare services;
  5. Has continued to ignore the true "voice" of Indian people-the Band Council. Efforts and results of Indian people usually remain within the reserve boundaries;
  6. Under Indian Affairs has continued to suppress and discourage Band Councils operations, i.e., heavy administrative guidelines. Band Councils continue to be interfered with in their efforts to meaningfully get ahead;
  7. Allows the Minister to continue having almost total one-sided control of Indian people. He obviously has too much authority-much of this power has to come down to the Band level. The once meaningful trust-relationship has obviously disappeared! This "authority" continues to affect the every day life of most reserve Indians, resulting in many cases of poverty. Many Bands are discouraged by the continued turn down from District and Regional offices;
  8. Allows the Minister to veto the power of the Band in passing effective by-laws. By-laws are effective in assisting good local governments;
  9. Encourages large land-holdings by individual Indians in certain reserves thus creating discontent among people. Often these "controlled people" have no say in Band Council affairs and have to continue their dependency on welfare. The once common Indian concept of "working and sharing" together has now almost disappeared. Definition of "reserve" - "a tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a Band."
  10. Encourages Senior Civil Servants to continue coming out with "guidelines and regulations" without any attempts at consulting with Indian people. Efforts have to be made now to stop this!

These above facts have to be seriously looked at if this revision is to be successful. Although these are only some facts, much has to be considered. Other areas like hunting and fishing rights, exemption from taxation, education, elections, etc. have to be studied and any changes have to come from us Indian people. The importance of developing an Act that will protect the Indian Treaties and land is imperative. In, the coming months, Indian people of Saskatchewan are encouraged to participate through their elected leaders, District and Band meetings. It might be noted that "this is the most important piece of legislation ever undertaken by Indian people." It will mean a big improvement socially and economically for all Indians in Canada.