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First Nations Historical Timeline
Transcript of First Nations Historical Timeline
Yukon First Nations Historical Timeline
1750 - 1890
Russia sells Alaska to the USA
Explicitly states that Aboriginal title
to exist, and that all land would be considered Aboriginal land until ceded by treaty
14 treaties are made in the area from 1850-1854
Under Douglas, First Nations are able to acquire land like settlers
His successors, including Joseph Trutch, did not share Douglas' views and reversed his policies
Under Trutch, reserve land was reduced by
91% and limited to 10 acres per family
In a letter to his wife, Charlotte, regarding the Indians of the Oregon Territory he wrote, "I think they are the ugliest and laziest creatures I ever saw and we should as soon think of being afraid of our dogs as of them."
A colony is established on the mainland of British Columbia
The influx of new immigrants changes the nature of the territory
The land is viewed by the new arrivals as empty and free for
Some estimates place the number of dead much higher claiming that 60% of the population living on the West Coast in 1861 were dead by 1863
Also at this time there are outbreaks of other illnesses including:
consolidates all previous Indian
legislation & defines Indian status
The Act influences every aspect of a First Nations person's life from birth to death
Indian Bands are created and Indian Agents become the intermediaries between First Nations people and the rest of the country
The Act essentially made "status
Indians" wards of the
Every Indian or other person who engages in or assists in celebrating the Indian festival known as the "Potlatch" or the Indian dance known as the "Tamanawas" is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than six nor less than two months in a jail or other place of confinement.
Nicholas Flood Davin is commissioned by Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to study industrial schools for Aboriginal children in the United States. In his 1879 Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half Breeds, he recommends the government follow the U.S example of "aggressive civilization", stating, “if anything is to be done with the Indian, we must catch him very young. The children must be kept constantly within the circle of civilized conditions”.
The first residential school in Yukon opens.
Forty Mile Indian Residential School (Carcross Indian Residential School)
Duncan Campbell Scott
is named Deputy
Superintendent General of the Department of Indian Affairs.
With a stated objective of assimilation, he rules the department until 1932.
"I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone... Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department"
Dawson City, the biggest Canadian city west of Winnipeg, becomes the territorial capital
The Steamship Monarch arrives in Dawson City
4th of July Celebration, 1898
• Baptist Indian Residential School (Yukon Indian Residential School), Whitehorse, opens
• Forty Mile Indian Residential School moves to Carcross (known as Carcross Indian Residential School, Chooutla Indian Residential School and Caribou Crossing Indian Residential School)
• Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, a supporter of aboriginal rights, visits British Columbia. There is deep division between the federal and provincial government
as to the recognition of
St. Paul's Indian Residential School
(St. Paul's Hall), Dawson, opens
Bill 13: British Columbia Indian Lands Settlement Act implements the McKenna-McBride Commission's recommendations, and allows reductions or "cut-offs" of reserves without consent of aboriginal people, contrary to provisions of the Indian Act
Indian Act Amendments
Residential school attendance for aboriginal children up to age 15 is made
The Department of Indian Affairs is given the right to ban hereditary rule of bands
Allows the involuntary enfranchisement (and loss of treaty rights) of any status Indian considered
by the Department of Indian Affairs, including those who lived and worked off reserve, fought in wars, or got a University degree
Chief Dan Cranmer and his guests are arrested in Alert Bay for violating the anti-potlatch law
Hundreds of potlatch items were illegally confiscated in Alert Bay.
This was a devastating loss to the community.
Many of these items ended up in museums in Canada, the US and Britain
Indian Act Amendment
Makes it illegal for First Nations to raise money or retain legal counsel, effectively blocking First Nations from fighting for their rights
through the court system
This section of the Indian Act was so broadly worded that it made almost any gathering of First Nations people potentially illegal.
This had a major impact on the First Nations traditional way of life where potlatches and other gatherings would provide opportunities to gift necessities for those in need, pass on traditional knowledge, and share stories.
It also made it difficult for the tribes to follow their long established system of governance and ways of dealing with disputes.
Illegally confiscated masks from Alert Bay on display at the ROM
At a December meeting in Port Simpson the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia is formed with delegates from Masset, Hartley Bay, Kitkatla, Port Essington and
1942 - 1943
The Alaska Highway
The 2,446 km highway is constructed in 8 months and 12 days. The sudden changes are drastic and their hasty arrival makes adjustment difficult.
30,000 American military and civilian personnel arrive to begin construction of the highway.
The soldiers bring diseases which evolve into epidemics.
They also bring alcohol to the communities; thus begins a tempestuous battle with alcoholism as the people have
no tolerance to its devastating effects.
St. Paul's Indian Residential School (St. Paul's Hall)
First Nations people in B.C. are permitted to vote in
Women were given this right in
1916, 33 years earlier
After 67 years, anti-potlatch laws are removed from the Indian Act and the potlatch is no longer illegal.
Yukon's capital city moves from Dawson City to White Horse (officially changed to Whitehorse in 1957)
Yukon Hall (residence for local day school students), Whitehorse, opens
First Nations people in Canada are permitted to right to vote in
Women were given this right in 1918, 42 years earlier
Baptist Indian Residential School
Years in Operation: 69
Years in Operation: 9
Location: Dawson City
Years in Operation: 23
The federal government, under Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chretien, issues its White Paper, advocating policies which promote rejection of the Indian Act, abolition of land claims and the assimilation of First Nations people.
Years in Operation: 78
The Nisga'a go to court with the Calder case declaring that title to their lands had never been lawfully extinguished.
Carcross Indian Residential School CLOSED
The White Paper was met with forceful opposition from Aboriginal leaders across the country and sparked a new era of Indigenous political organizing in Canada. Aboriginal people, represented by Harold Cardinal and the Indian Chiefs of Alberta, issued a response commonly known as the "Red Paper". The response explained their intense protest and widespread opposition to the "White Paper".
"In spite of all government attempts to convince Indians to accept the white paper, their efforts will fail, because Indians understand that the path outlined by the Department of Indian Affairs through its mouthpiece, the Honourable Mr. Chrétien, leads directly to cultural genocide. We will not walk this path."
- Harold Cardinal, The Unjust Society
The 'Indian Control of Indian Education' policy document is written by the National Indian Brotherhood advocating parental responsibility and local control over First Nations education. This policy is accepted by the federal government a year later, though no government has supported the
spirit of the document in any meaningful manner.
“Unless a child learns about the forces which shape him: the history of his people, their values and customs, their language, he will never really know himself or his potential as a human being. Indian culture and values have a unique place in the history of mankind. The Indian child who learns about his heritage will be proud of it. The lessons he learns in school, his whole school experience, should reinforce & contribute to the image he has of himself as an Indian.”
- 1972 Policy Paper
• Elijah Smith, and a delegation of Yukon First Nation Chiefs, travel to Ottawa with the document
Together Today for Our
and initiate modern
Yukon land claims negotiations.
• In the Calder case, the Supreme Court
rules that the Nisga'a
hold title to their traditional lands before B.C. was created. The Court was split on whether that right
As a result of this decision the federal government adopts a comprehensive land claims policy.
B.C. refuses to participate.
Lower Post Indian Residential School
Location: Lower Post
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Years in Operation: 24
The Lower Post School, run by the Catholic Church, and the Carcross School, run by the Anglican Church, saw three generations of Yukon First Nations come through their doors.
The law stated that status Indians
send their children to mission school, and this was enforced by the R.C.M.P. Children from as far away as Old Crow were sent to Carcross where they remained for a number of years.
1970 - 1980
• Increase in First Nations action and the evolution of political structures
• BC still refuses to recognize aboriginal title or negotiate
Canada's Constitutional Act, Section 35, recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights
On his visit to Canada, the
Pope says that Canada's Aboriginal people have the right to self-government, their own resources, and their own economy.
The Pope's comments highlight the fact that the way Canada treats its First Nations people is gaining international attention.
Indian Act Amendment (Bill C-31)
1) to address gender discrimination of the Act
2) to restore Indian status to those who had been forcibly enfranchised due to previous discriminatory provisions
3) to allow bands to control their own
band membership as a step
The amendments, effective April 17, 1985:
treat men and women equally;
treat children equally whether they are born in or out of wedlock and whether they are natural or adopted
prevent anyone from gaining or losing status through marriage
restore Indian status for those who lost it through discrimination or enfranchisement
allow first-time registration of children (and in some cases descendants of subsequent generations) of those whose status is restored
allow for the registration of children born out of wedlock if either parent was a registered Indian, regardless of their date of birth.
These amendments were important steps in the path to self-government
The Oka Crisis, a 78 day standoff between
Mohawk protesters, police and army, gains national
attention. First Nations across the country rally to
support the Mohawks and to emphasize their demands for
recognition of inherent aboriginal title and rights.
The Supreme Court in the Ronald Sparrow case concludes that the Musqueam peoples aboriginal right to fish for
food and ceremonial purposes had
extinguished prior section 35 of the
Constitutional Act of 1982.
B.C. agrees to join the First Nations and Canada in treaty
negotiations and to establish a task force to develop a process for land claim negotiations in B.C.
The result of this case lead to what
become known as the
The “Sparrow test” sets out a list of criteria that determines whether a right is existing, and if so, how a government may be justified to infringe upon it.
The Sparrow test first seeks to define whether or not a right has been infringed upon. A government activity might infringe upon a right if it:
Imposes undue hardship on the First Nation;
Is considered by the court to be unreasonable;
Prevents the right-holder from exercising that right.
The Sparrow test then outlines what might justify an infringement upon an Aboriginal right. An infringement might be justified if:
The infringement serves a “valid legislative objective.” The court suggested a valid legislative objective would be conservation of natural resources, in which First Nations interest would come second only to that;
“There has been as little infringement as possible in order to effect the desired result;”
Fair compensation was provided, and,
Aboriginal groups were consulted, or, “at the least… informed.”
• In the case of Delgamuukw v. Her
Majesty the Queen, Chief Justice
McEachern dismisses the Gitxsan-Wet'suwet'en Chiefs' claim to Aboriginal title, self-government and Aboriginal rights in the territories at issue. Title was seen to be extinguished during B.C.'s colonial period.
This decision is highly controversial.
• The B.C. Treaty Commission begins the treaty negotiation process.
• A final version of the Umbrella Final Agreement is signed by the governments of Canada, Yukon, and Yukon First
Nations as represented by the Council
of Yukon Indians (now the Council
of Yukon First Nations).
After two decades of negotiations the "Umbrella Final Agreement" (UFA) was signed in 1993. The UFA is used as the framework, or template, for individual agreements with each of the fourteen Yukon First Nations.
Unlike most other Canadian land claims agreements that apply only to Status Indians, the Yukon First Nations insisted that the agreements involve everyone they considered part of their nation, whether they were recognized as Status Indians or not.
The first four Yukon First Nations sign their Self-Government Agreements:
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun
Teslin Tlingit Council
These Self-Governing Agreements are enacted later that year.
Canadian Indian Residential School, White Calf Collegiate, Saskatchewan
The Supreme Court hands down its unanimous
decision on the Delgamuukw Case, ruling that
aboriginal title to the land had
extinguished. Further they confirm that it is a right
to the land itself-not just the right to hunt, fish
or gather-and that when dealing with Crown land
the government must consult with, and may
have to compensate, First Nations whose
rights are affected. They also recognize
oral history as evidence.
Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation signs
their Self-Government Agreement
Selkirk First Nation signs
their Self-Government Agreement
Tr'ondek Hwech'in signs their Self-Government Agreement.
The Territory of Nunavut is born
In 1976, as part of the land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (then called the 'Inuit Tapirisat of Canada') and the federal government, the parties discussed division of the Northwest Territories to provide a separate territory for the Inuit.
On April 14, 1992, a plebiscite on division was held throughout the Northwest Territories. A majority of the residents voted in favour and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later.
The land claims agreement was completed in September, 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of Nunavut voters. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act are passed by the Canadian Parliament.
Ta'an Kwach'an Council signs their Self Government Agreement.
Kluane First Nation signs their Self-Government Agreement.
Carcross Tagish First Nation signs their Self Government Agreement.
The Royal Proclamation
A British Colony is established on Vancouver Island and Colony Governor James Douglas begins
lands from the First Nations people.
The Fraser River Gold Rush
One of the worst small pox
epidemics sweeps British Columbia,
killing one third of the First Nations
population in the province - waves of epidemics decimated First Nations populations
The Indian Act is established
The height of trade between coastal Tlingit middlemen and interior Yukon people; supplying furs to markets in Asia, Europe and North America
Canada is born: July 1, 1867
The Klondike Gold Rush was triggered by Skookum Jim, George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Robert Henderson when they struck gold on Rabbit (later changed to Bonanza) Creek in the Klondike River drainage in 1896.
• The official start of the Klondike Gold Rush
• Ottawa passes the Yukon
Territory Act to constitute Yukon as separate and distinct from the Northwest Territories
The First Nations make application to
King Edward VII to have the Privy Council determine aboriginal title
The application is denied
Forty-five people are arrested
and offered reduced sentences in exchange for giving up their
22 people refuse and serve jail time
• Nisga'a Tribal Council, B.C. and Canada sign a tripartite framework agreement which sets out the scope, process
and topics for negotiations.
Kwanlin Dun First Nation signs their Self-Government Agreement
Compensation, called Common
Experience Payments, are made available to residential school
students who were alive as of
May 30, 2005
Prime Minister, Stephen
Harper issues a formal apology
to First Nations across Canada for the hurt caused by residential schools.
There is a wide range of reactions to to the apology reflecting the depth of emotions still being
dealt with by residential
The outcome of the McIvor case prompts further amendment to the Indian Act allowing First Nation children descending matrilineally the right to their First Nation status.
Canada announces it is endorsing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada (INAC) changes their name
to Aboriginal Affairs (AA).
Former students of residential schools
have one last chance to apply for compensation under the Common
Experience Payment Program.
The repeal of Section 67 is complete and Aboriginal people in Canada are granted human rights under
the Canadian Human
Dr. Ian Mosby, University of
Guelph, publishes historical research proving that aboriginal adults and children were the unwitting subjects in nutritional experiments by the Canadian Government.
After 22 years the Tislhqot'in First Nation begins presenting its case regarding aboriginal title to the Supreme Court.
The decision in this case could have
major repercussions as the court is
expected to lay out just how
aboriginal land title can
Enactment of anti-potlatch laws
Responsibility for the education of aboriginal children is given in large part to church run residential schools
This is not happening without resistance. Aboriginal people retain a profound conviction that their Aboriginal title still exists.
Set out the guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories in what is now North America
Indian Act Amendments
States that only the Crown can acquire lands from First Nations
The war triggers a drop in fur prices pulling many First Nations away from this traditional lifestyle. Many of them choose to settle in the communities forming along the highway.
Easy access to the communities means easier access to First Nations children who are picked up and sent to residential
Indian Act Amendments
Provinces are enabled to provide services to Aboriginal people where no federal services exist.
Child protection is one of these
areas. This change led to what
became known as the
In 1951 there were 29 Aboriginal children in provincial care in BC. By 1964, that number was 1,466. The number continued to increase at an alarming rate. By 1970 one third of all children in care were Aboriginal.
There has been a major push by First Nations to change this but progress has been slow. 2006 census data from BC indicates that Aboriginal children made up 8% of the child population, yet 52% of the children in care in BC in 2007/2008 were Aboriginal.
It focuses on three areas:
Lower Post Indian Residential School opens