Here are some of the restrictions and impacts first imposed on First Nations in 1876 in the Indian Act.  While some have since been totally removed in revisions of the current Act, it is still in force, which is a major reason why the use of the offensive term “Indian” persists today. For more information read 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph.

  1. denied women status; 1869-1985
  2. introduced residential schools;
  3. created reserves; 1876 to present day
  4. renamed individuals with European names 1880-2021
  5. restricted First Nations from leaving reserve without permission from Indian Agent – (not legislated but a policy created in 1885 and abandoned in 1951)
  6. enforced enfranchisement (loss of status rights) of any First Nation admitted to university  (1876-1985)
  7. could expropriate portions of reserves for roads, railways and other public works, as well as to move an entire reserve away from a municipality if it was deemed expedient; 1876 to 1985 (revised in the current version of the Indian Act)
  8. could lease out uncultivated reserve lands to non-First Nations if the new leaseholder would use it for farming or pasture 1918-1985
  9. forbade First Nations from forming political organizations 1927-1951
  10. prohibited anyone, First Nation or non-First Nation, from soliciting funds for First Nation legal claims without special license from the Superintendent General. (this 1927 amendment granted the government control over the ability of First Nations to pursue land claims) 1927-1951
  11. prohibited the sale of alcohol to First Nations; 1884 to undetermined time
  12. prohibited sale of ammunition to First Nations; 1881 to undetermined time
  13. prohibited pool hall owners from allowing First Nations entrance 1927-undertermined time as the Indian Act of 1885 continues a form of control in this area
  14. imposed the “band council” system; 1869 to present day
  15. forbade First Nations from speaking their native language late 1880’s to early 1960’s
  16. forbade First Nations from practicing their traditional religion 1940’s
  17. forbade western First Nations from appearing in any public dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant wearing traditional regalia 1906-1951
  18. declared potlatch and other cultural ceremonies illegal 1884-1951
  19. denied First Nations the right to vote until 1960
  20. created permit system to control First Nations ability to sell products from farms; 1881-2014
  21. is a piece of legislation created under the British rule for the purpose of subjugating one race – Aboriginal people.


What Should Been Done About the Indian Act? | The Agenda