Indian Act Amendment

In 1920 the Superintendent General was given the power to decide whether a woman who had lost status through marriage was eligible to live on reserve. Until this time, this power had belonged to the band council. It also became the role of the Superintendent General to approve the payment of annuities to an Aboriginal woman who lost status through marriage. Until this time, she would automatically continue to receive annuities or her portion of band funds, even after losing her status. The Superintendent-General was also given the power to provide transportation for children to a school, apply the annuities of a child to the upkeep of a school, and enforce compulsory attendance of children aged 7-15 at schools.


PAC, RG10, Vol. 6810, file 470-2-3, vol. 6: Amendment Bill Brief Scott sent to Lougheed 18 May 1814, p. 2-3 including regulations relating to the education of Indian children, Order-in-Council of August 6, 1908; Vol. 7: House of Commons -- Bill -- Act to amend the Indian Act (1920), proposed addition of a sixth subsection to sec. 10; Vol. 8: R.C.M.P Inspector T. Dann, Manitoba District to the R.C.M.P Commissioner, Ottawa, 9 December 1926; R.C.M.P Commissioner Cortlandt Starnes to the Deputy Supt.-Gen., 15 December 1926; Memo of A.S Williams, D.I.A Law Clerk, 14 January 1927.

The Superintendent General was given increased control over band membership and the status of Aboriginal women, which had previously been the domain of Aboriginal male leadership in band councils. By putting this power in the hands of the Superintendent General, it provided the opportunity for abuse of power, in that the SG could reward or punish Aboriginal women who either conformed or resisted the imposition of Christianity and European gender roles. As such, the SG could prohibit her from living on the reserve or receiving annuities that may have been necessary for survival. These amendments represent a trend in amendments to the Indian Act in which bureaucratic surveillance and control of Indigenous affairs increased over time. No accountability structures or system of checks and balances were simultaneously applied to compensate for the powers afforded these expansions of bureaucratic oversight. This is indicative of the belief that it was Indigenous people who posed a threat to societal order, and from whom society needed to be protected, obscuring the potential for abuses of the state’s power and vulnerability to harm from Indian Agents and other colonial officials. There do not appear to have been discussions of rights of Aboriginal peoples or potential routes of advocacy in cases of corruption, such as unjust accusations of criminality.
Rural or Urban
Start Date
Sub Event
Superintendent General Given Control over Non-Status Women Living On-Reserve, School Attendance
File Description
An Act to Amend the Indian Act: 10-11 George V, Chapt. 50,