Indian Act Amendments

Amendments to the Indian Act in 1881 and 1882 allowed Governor-in-Council to prohibit and/or regulate the sale and exchange of agricultural products produced by Indian bands. This regulation did not cover the sale or exchange of furs or game. The 1881 amendment also gave Indian agents the power to act as Justices of the Peace and extended the power of jurisdictional magistrates on to reserves.

Date Explanation
Two inter-related amendments to the Indian Act took place in 1881 and 1882

The Historical Development of the Indian Act. Ottawa: Indian and Northern Affairs, 1978. D.M.R Annual Report, I.A.B., 1937, McGill to Crerar, p. 190; CP, Statutes of Canada (4-5 Geo. VI, cap. 190, 14 June 1941, pp. 119-120: An Act to amend the Indian Act; see PAC, RG10, Vol. 6811, file 470-2-7: Memo, D.J Allan, Supt. Reserves and Trusts to Chief Exec. Asst. C.W Jackson, 7 Aug. 1941 PAC RG10, Vol. 6810, file 470-2-3, vol. 10: Memorandum, Solicitor W.M Cory to McGill, 18 Nov. 1938; Circular signed by Director, 22 Nov. 1938; A.D Moore, Muncey, Ont. to McGill, 6 Dec. 1938; A.O N'Daunt, New Westminster, B.C to McGill, 8 Dec. 1938; H.J Eade, Deseronto, Ont. to Sec., Mines and Resources, 9 Dec. 1938; W.L. Tyrer, Moose Factory, 4 Feb. 1939; D.M. MacKay, B.C Indian Commissioner to Sec., I.A.B., 11 Dec. 1939; Resolutions before Annual Meeting of Agents and Farm Instructors, Sask. Inspectorate, Apr. 1939, signed Thos. Robertson, Inspector of Indian Agencies, Sask.

Other Note

This policy was criticized in parliament by Liberal MP David Mills Bothwell.

Greater power over Aboriginal economic practices was given to Euro-Canadian officials as a means to force compliance with government policies. The government's paternalistic rationale is that it would protect Indians from being swindled by non-Indians and also prevented them from being able to barter for items the government perceived as dangerous to Indians, such as alcohol. Restrictions on sales of their agricultural products made it more difficult for Aboriginal people to make a living farming, as when they were able to produce agricultural surpluses they had difficulty selling them off-reserve. According to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, there is evidence that in the 1880's non-Indigenous farmers complained about the competition provided by Indigenous farmers.
Rural or Urban
Start Date
End Date
Sub Event
Regulations of Sale of Agricultural Products; Broadening Powers of Magistrates and Indian Agents