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Principles Of Indian Government

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE/JULY 1977      v07 n06 p08  
The following principles of Indian government are outlined in the report on Indian government recently released by the FSI.

  1. Indian rights to nationhood and self-government are backed by historical evidence that Indian governments existed long before the founding of Canada and that those governments had the allegiance of thousands of people.

  2. The British North America Act gives the federal government authority to legislate and regulate Canada's relationship with Indian nations in the same way they have authority to regulate Canada's relationship with other nations. The Act does not give the federal government authority to manage the internal affairs of Indian nations.

  3. Through treaties, parliamentary legislation and the administrative actions of the Canadian government, Indian governments have lost or surrendered, the exercise of some of their inherent sovereign powers.

  4. The authority and jurisdiction of Indian governments is greater than what is presently being recognized or exercised.

  5. The direction, status and nature of Indian government will be decided and acted upon by Indian people.

  6. The government of Canada, as trustee for Indian rights and lands, must abide at all times by the rule that it act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, the Indian people, even if such action is to the trustee's own detriment.

  7. When Indians signed treaties, the signatories held back or reserve certain lands for Indian people. It was, and still is, Indian land.

  8. The signatories also held back or reserved certain rights and powers of Indian governments. These are not mentioned in the treaty articles because they were not subject to negotiations.

  9. Canadian constitutional doctrine and constitutional misconceptions have played, and continue to play, a role in distorting the pattern of governmental response to obligations to Indians.

  10. The BNA Act refers to "Indians and lands reserved for Indians," not to "Indians, on lands reserved for Indians." The relationship between Indians and the federal government, as well as the jurisdiction of Indian government, extends to Indians whether they are on lands reserved for Indians or not.

  11. The words "lands reserved for Indians" refer, not only to Indian reserves, but to all lands reserved, upon any terms and conditions, for Indian occupation.

  12. Indians retained title to their lands, and the role of trustee played by the federal government is simply to hold that title in-trust for future generations of Indians. Canada does not have any proprietary rights in lands reserved for Indians.

  13. The government of Canada had, and has, no right to take, title through surrenders of lands reserved for Indians, nor to make grants of such lands. The titles held by those who were granted such lands, as well as the titles held by their successors in title, are invalid.

  14. The agreements concluded between Canada' and the provinces to facilitate the alienation of surrendered reserve lands are in direct violation of Indian treaties with the Crown.

  15. Since Canada does not have any proprietary rights to Indian lands, and since Indian treaties were made with Canada and not the provinces, Indians retain these proprietary rights and the accompanying legislative authority with respect to lands.

  16. Since it is clearly recognized in Canadian legislation that "all laws of general application from' time to time in force in any province" are subject to the terms of any treaty, it is equally clear that the terms of the treaties take precedence over all legislation-federal or provincial-and that Indians retain legislative authority. This authority includes, but is not limited to, such areas as: justice; trade and commerce; taxation; education; health; economic development; social services; citizenship; housing;, policing; corrections; government, and; land use management.