The Canadian Government amended the Manitoba Act Section 32. This amendment stated that all claimants had to demonstrate “undisturbed occupancy” and “actual peaceable possession.”
The government had been informed by Henry Youle Hind that in the summer, many Metis were trying to make a living by hunting buffalo or freighting supplies for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and were not present to confirm their land occupancy. These amendments, therefore, were used to alienate Metis and their families from a protected land base.
Sprague argues definitively that this amendment was passed to undermine the ability of Metis to obtain patents for their land. However, Thomas Flanagan indicates that this amendment was not malicious, but was a method of ensuring land was being used. In this argument, Flanagan assumes the position of a Eurocentric apologist, based on the Lockean philosophy that humans have been given a divine command to dominate the land through constant agricultural use. This constitutes land "productivity" and is an ideal that was and is central to the project of European colonization, as it validates colonization of new lands to use said land in accordance with one interpretation of a passage from the book of Genesis in Christian scripture ("Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it").
It stands in stark contrast to Indigenous philosophies, which, although also perceive land as a gift from the Creator, does not perceive land as something to be dominated and conquered. Rather, Indigenous worldviews emphasize that humans have a responsibility to steward the land and its creation. This belief extended to the social and political organization of the Metis around the buffalo hunt, as they harvested buffalo judiciously and used every part of the animal. On a deeper philosophical level, Flanagan is also assuming the right to sovereignty of the Canadian government, a right that would be based on the doctrines of Terra Nullius (that the land was empty when the Europeans arrived because Indigenous peoples were not socially or politically sophisticated enough to constitute civilization or nationhood) and the (aforementioned) Doctrine of Discovery (the right of Christian princes to colonize new lands for European expansion).
- Statues of Canada (1875), Chapter 52: An act to amend “An Act respecting the appropriation of certain lands in Manitoba.”
- Sprague, D. N. Canada and the Métis, 1869-1885. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1988.
- Flanagan, Thomas, and Gerhard Ens. "Metis Land Grants in Manitoba: A Statistical Study." Histoire Sociale/Social History 27, no. 53 (1994): 65-87.