Benjamin Franklin
1706 - 1790

Franklin wrote the following after a large group of innocent Indians were massacred because of the actions of others from another Tribe:

"If an Indian injures me, does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?

"It is well known that Indians are of different Tribes, Nations and Languages, as well as the White People.

"In Europe, if the French, who are White People, should injure the Dutch, are they to revenge it on the English, because they too are White People?

"The only Crime of these poor Wretches seems to have been, that they had a reddish brown Skin, and black Hair; and some People of that Sort, it seems, had murdered some of our Relations.

"If it be right to kill Men for such a Reason, then, should any Man, with a freckled Face and red Hair, kill a Wife or Child of mine, it would be right for me to revenge it, by killing all the freckled red-haired Men, Women and Children, I could afterwards any where meet with."

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7
Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 |Chapter 14 
Chapter 12

We Were Not the Savages - Confederation and the Indian Act

During the 1860s, politicians from Upper and Lower Canada and the Maritimes began to meet to discuss confederation. In time, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario worked out a proposal to federate, which was forwarded to Great Britain’s Parliament for action. Although it would affect them drastically, because of racist attitudes, First Nations were excluded from participating in the process.


In response to the recommendations of the colonial delegates the British Parliament created Canada in 1867 by enacting “The British North America Act.” The new country had four provinces with two levels of government, federal and provincial.

The most significant change for the First Nations was that they now had to look to Ottawa instead of provincial and territorial capitals for subsistence allowances. The immediate benefit was that the assistance from Ottawa would be high enough to end starvation. The biggest negative was that communication with the remote Great White Father was very difficult for a largely uneducated population.

Communication was made even harder for Amerindians by the federal government’s habit of passing its new responsibilities from department to department. Until Indian affairs were finally anchored with the creation of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (diand) in 1966, they were switched at random from one department to another—Secretary of State; Energy, Mines and Resources; Citizenship and Immigration.

In retrospect, placing our People in the hands of Citizenship and Immigration was very offensive. Today it seems like a cruel and tasteless joke that the First Nations peoples, rendered destitute and landless refugees in their own country by the English, were placed under the control of the department responsible for immigrants to Canada. What made it even more atrocious was that Registered Indians were not accorded the same rights and privileges enjoyed by immigrants.

Under the new Constitution both levels of government had their responsibilities and powers clearly defined. Responsibility for the welfare of Treaty Indians and the security of their lands was placed in the hands of the federal government by Section 91(24):

91. It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and

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