INDIAN ACT - RACIST MORONIC SECTIONS
INDIAN AFFAIRS DIRECTIVES
To shed a bit more light on the moronic racist attitudes prevalent in the Department that created such things as centralization, a review of a few more pieces of their sick output is in order. The following letter had been sent out from Ottawa to all Indian Agents by Superintendent General of Indian Affairs Duncan Elliott on December 15, 1921:
It is observed with alarm that the holding of dances by the Indians on their reserves is in the increase, and that these practices tend to disorganize the efforts which the Department is putting forth to make them self-supporting.
I have, therefore, to direct you to use your utmost endeavours to dissuade the Indians from excessive indulgence in the practice of dancing. You should suppress any dances which cause waste of time, interfere with the occupations of the Indians, unsettle them for serious work, injure their health or encourage them in sloth and idleness.
You should also dissuade, and, if possible, prevent them from leaving their reserves for the purpose of attending fairs, exhibitions, etc., when their absence would result in their own farming and other interests being neglected. It is realized that reasonable amusement and recreation should be enjoyed by Indians, but they should not be allowed to dissipate their energies and abandon themselves to demoralizing amusements. By the use of tact and firmness, you can control and keep it, and this obstacle to continued progress will then disappear.
The rooms, halls or other places in which Indians congregate should be under constant inspection. They should be scrubbed, fumigated, cleansed or disinfected to prevent the dissemination of disease. The Indians should be instructed in regard to the matter of proper ventilation and the avoidance of overcrowded rooms where public assemblies are being held, and proper arrangement should be made for the shelter of their horses and ponies. The Agent will avail himself of the services of the medical attendant of his agency in this connection.
Eliott's memo displays the same White supremacist mentality that guided the authors of Section 140 of the 1927 Indian Act:
Dances and Festivals
140. (1) Every Indian or other person who engages in, or assists in celebrating or encourages, either directly or indirectly, another to celebrate any Indian Festival, dance, or other ceremony of which the giving away or paying or giving back of money, goods or articles of any sort forms a part, or is a feature, whether such gift of money, goods or articles takes place before, at, or after the celebration of the same or who engages or assists in any celebration or dance of which the wounding or mutilation of the dead or living body of any human being or animal forms a part or is a feature, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and not less than two months.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the holding of any agricultural show or exhibition or the giving away of prizes for exhibits thereat.
(3) Any Indian in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia or in the Territories who participates in any Indian Dance outside the bounds of his own reserve, or who participates in any show, exhibition, performance, stampede or pageant in aboriginal costume without the consent of the Superintendent General or his authorized agent, and any person who induces or employs any Indian to take part in such dance, show, exhibition, performance, stampede or pageant, or induces any Indian to leave his reserve or employs any Indian for such a purpose, whether the dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant has taken place or nor, shall on summary conviction be liable to a penalty not exceeding twenty five dollars, or to imprisonment for one month, or to both penalty and imprisonment.
This section directly attacks the traditions of First Nations. It also denies them an opportunity to earn a living. To demand that permission must be obtained from another racial segment of the population to do something other groups can do without restriction is not paternalism as some would like to believe; it is simply mindless White supremacist racism. Never did any Canadian legislation require Scottish Canadians, for instance, to receive government permission to entertain in their traditional costumes for pay.
The prohibition against mutilating the dead in Section 140 is particularly offensive because First Nations peoples of Canada have always held their dead in the highest respect and would never have maliciously mutilated their remains. Some rites performed by certain First Nations over their dead may have caused some people of European Christian extraction some discomfort, but the European practice of performing autopsies and embalming the dead probably caused some First Nations peoples discomfort also.
The following old section of the Indian Act is another delightful example of the "enlightened" European mentality at work:
140. (a) Where it is made to appear in open court that any Indian, summoned before such court, by inordinate frequenting of a poolroom either on or off a reserve, misspends or wastes his time or means to the detriment of himself, his family or household, of which he is a member, the police magistrate, stipendiary magistrate, Indian agent, or two justices of the peace holding such court, shall by writing under his or their hand or hands forbid the owner or person in charge of a poolroom which such Indian is in the habit of frequenting to allow such Indian to enter such poolroom for the space of one year from the date of such notice.
Any owner or person in charge of a poolroom who allows an Indian to enter a poolroom in violation of such notice, and any Indian who enters a poolroom where his admission has been so forbidden, shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding twenty five dollars and costs or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty days.26
I attended business college in Truro during 1960-61 and was not permitted to enter the poolroom because I was a Mi'kmaq. I didn't know then that this had once been mandated by statute. The poolroom operator's attitude was probably a combination of racism and fear of violating a law he may have thought was still in effect.
Another gem set out in the Indian Act of 1930 appears to have been enacted to stifle entrepreneurial initiative:
Prevention of Trade
120. Every person who buys or otherwise acquires from any Indian, or band or irregular band of Indians, in the province of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Alberta, or the Territories, any cattle or other animals or any grain, root crops or other produce or sells to any such Indian any goods or supplies, cattle or other animals contrary to the provisions of this Act, shall on summary conviction, be liable to a penalty not exceeding one hundred dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both.27
The three sections just mentioned remained, in one form or another, part of the Act until 1951.