Introduction of Severalty Policy

In his annual reports of 1886 and 1888, Indian Commissioner Hayter Reed introduced his plan for the subdivision of reserve lands into individual farms with the goal of making ‘self-reliant farmers,’ eliminating reserves, and the cultural make up of Prairie peoples. The subdivision of reserves in Treaty 4 and 6 territories began in 1889, starting with the Piapot, Muscowpetung, and Pasqua Reserves.


Canadian House of Commons, Sessional Papers, vol. 22.16 (1888), 28. Canada. Sessional Papers. “Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year ended 31 December 1889.” Canada, Sessional Papers (No. 12) 1890, 165, Reed to Superintendent General, 31 October 1889.

The policy of Severalty was created to eliminate the tribal system, specifically by creating family-run private farms, replacing communal and cooperative farming efforts. This policy was part of the government's assimilation plan by implementing capitalist economic systems on reserves, which undermined values of collectivity and also restricted Indigenous peoples from the benefits of communal knowledge sharing, organization of community resources, and farming that better addressed hunger.

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