The federal government established a set of regulations which dictated the sectioning of reserve lots (known as the severalty system) and methods of purchase and settlement of Indian lands, including the method of paying the purchase money to Indians and disposal of timber from surrendered reserve lands. These regulations dictated that lawful use of reserve land required not only settlement and occupation, but improvement as well. As well, these regulations indicated that if said reserve land was unfit for cultivation, the Superintendent General could dispose of Indian land or of its resources (timber, saw logs, staves, lathwood, shingle bolts, cordwood, or any other wood cut for sale) for the Indians without having to justify it on the basis of occupation, improvement, or cultivation/agriculture.
Government interference and the paternalistic management of Indigenous affairs were based on the assumption that Indigenous peoples were incapable of managing their own lands and resources. As well, it's insistence on land use patterns through occupation, improvement and cultivation constituted the imposition of Eurocentric cultural norms regarding land "productivity," to the detriment of Indigenous practices that prioritized stewardship.
The policy of severalty was created to eliminate the tribal system, specifically by creating family-run farms, replacing communal and cooperative farming efforts. This policy was part of the government's plan of assimilation by implementing capitalist economic systems on reserves, which required undermining values of collectivity and replacing them capitalist values of individualism and self-interest.