Talking Back to the Indian Act: Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories
Talking Back to the Indian Act is a comprehensive "how-to" guide for engaging with primary source documents. The intent of the book is to encourage readers to develop the skills necessary to converse with primary sources in more refined and profound ways. As a piece of legislation that is central to Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities, and one that has undergone many amendments, the Indian Act is uniquely positioned to act as a vehicle for this kind of focused reading.
Through an analysis of thirty-five sources pertaining to the Indian Act—addressing governance, gender, enfranchisement, and land—the authors provide readers with a much better understanding of this pivotal piece of legislation, as well as insight into the dynamics involved in its creation and maintenance.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 248 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
"I would recommend Talking Back to the Indian Act to anyone interested in learning about the Indian Act – or in learning about the historical method. It is an easy read and I expect to see it not only in my classroom but on my summer vacation this year."
"This collection will engage the mind in a critical reading of the complexity of the Indian Act’s storied past and ongoing present through the documents it contains. Talking Back to the Indian Act will also engage students and those willing to learn more about a key Canadian historical document. And it will help students, Canadians, and Indigenous people to more fully engage with the TRC’s calls for action by increasing knowledge of Canada’s Settler colonialism."
"Written in the first person, interwoven with the professional parlance of history educators, fortified with primary-source evidence, and shored up with inquiry questions, maps, and a timeline, Talking Back to the Indian Act is not an unwieldy academic tome; rather, it speaks to all Canadians. With a bit of a nudge, it would be as comfortable on a coffee table as it would be in a course syllabus."
Connie Wyatt Anderson
"Putting the Indian Act under the microscope, this is an outstanding resource for teaching historical thinking, critical reading skills and for learning about the legal structure of settler colonialism. At this time of Reconciliation every Canadian should know about the history and legacy of the Indian Act, the most important Canadian legislation affecting Indigenous people. Archaic as it is, it remains in force today."
Sarah Carter, Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta
"The Indian Act is the most profound piece of legislation affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada. While many Canadians are aware of its existence, few are aware of the profound destructive effect, it has had upon Indigenous peoples over the last 142 years. Kelm and Smith have produced an outstanding text on the historical development and analysis of the Indian Act, using both western and Indigenous criteria. Through a focus on four areas: governance, enfranchisement, gender, and land, they demonstrate the impact the Act has had upon Indigenous peoples over the last 142 years. Anyone who reads this text will never again ask the question ‘why are Indigenous peoples poor and marginalized in their own lands?"
David Newhouse Director and Professor, Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, Trent University
"Finally, a book that critically engages the Indian Act in an accessible way. This book is an excellent resource for understanding what is wrong with Canada's Indigenous policies, and what needs to change."
John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, University of Victoria Law School
Author InformationMary-Ellen Kelm is Canada Research Chair and Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University.
Keith D. Smith teaches in the Departments of Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies and History at Vancouver Island University.
Table of contents
Maps 1 to 7
1. The 1876 Indian Act
1.1 Indian Act of 1876, Sections 1-3
1.2 Selections of House of Commons Debates on the Indian Act, 1876
1.3 Report of Proceedings of the Ojibway Grand Council Relative to the Indian Act, 1876
1.4 “Grand Indian Council of the Province of Ontario,” Wiarton Echo, 1876
1.5 Memorial from Chiefs and Warriors of the Six Nations to J.A. Macdonald, 1879
1.6 Interview with Vern Harper, 1983
1.7 Interview with Adam Solway, 1983
2.1 Indian Act of 1876, Sections 61-63, Council and Chiefs
2.2 Amendment to the Indian Act, 1880
2.3 Indian Advancement Act, 1884
2.4 Declaration of Crop Eared Wolf as Chief, 1900
2.5 Letter from Indian Agent R.N. Wilson to Indian Commissioner David Laird, 1908
2.6 “The New Story of the Iroquois by Chief Des-ka-heh,” 1925
2.7 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1985
3.1 Indian Act of 1876, Sections 86-94
3.2 Selections from Minutes of Grand Council of Chippewas, 1874
3.3 Memo on Enfranchisement
3.4 Evidence of D.C. Scott to the Special Committee of the House of Commons, 1920
3.5 Indian Act Amendment, 1920
3.6 A.G. Chisholm, “The Case of the Six Nations,” London Free Press, 20 March 1920
3.7 Letter from F.O. Loft to James Lougheed, 9 February 1921
4.1 Indian Act of 1876, Section 3
4.2 Amendment to the Indian Act, 1985
4.3 “Commutation of Annuity of Rosalie Howse née Ermineskin,” 1891
4.4 Mavis Goeres, Enough is Enough
4.5 Manitoba Justice Inquiry, “Cultural Changes—the Impact upon Aboriginal Women”
4.6 Excerpts from the “Reasons for Judgement,” McIvor v. The Registrar, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
4.7 Indigenous Bar Association in Canada, “Position Pater on Bill C-3”
5.1 The Indian Act of 1876, Sections 4-10, 25-28, and 59-60
5.2 An Act Respecting the Songhees Indian Reserve, 1911
5.3 “Last Chapter in Problem,” Daily Colonist, 17 March 1911
5.4 Memorandum for the Prime Minister on an Act to Amend the Indian Act
5.5 An Act to Amend the Indian Act (the Oliver Act), 1911
5.6 Letter from Chiefs Hill et al to Governor General Grey, May 1911
5.7 Letter from J.D. McLean to Chiefs Hill et al, May 1911
5.8 Lee Maracle, “Good-bye Snauq.”
Appendix A: Reading Historically
Appendix B: The Indian Act in Historical Context Timeline
Subjects and Courses