The unsettled state of Indian reserve lands in British Columbia prompted a federal-provincial compromise known as the McKenna-McBride Agreement, named for its chief negotiators. British Columbia had been intransigent on the question of Aboriginal lands since its entry into Confederation in 1871. The government had refused to grant extensive reserves, arguing that B.C. Natives had little use for land and were not prepared to accept the full range of rights that had been offered on Prairie reserves. Complicating the negotiations was the fact that B.C. Natives had surrendered title on only a small portion of the total land in the province. Repeated attempts of B.C. bands to achieve redress, such as the 1887 Nisga'a and Tsimshian petition, had met with indifference. The Royal Commission on Indian Lands, appointed in March 1913, was part of the McKenna-McBride Agreement. The object of the commission was to adjust reserve holdings in B.C. in an effort to put the contentious issue to rest. Inadequate reserves were to be expanded from Crown lands, while those with more lands than their occupants could use would be "cut off." These cut-offs were to be sold, with half the profits going to Ottawa for the Indians and the other half slated for Victoria. By the terms of the commission, no lands were to be cut off without the consent of the Natives involved, a requirement later dropped. British Columbia refused to expand the terms to accept a consideration of Aboriginal rights and even barred discussion of fishing, hunting, and water rights. This position, along with the unacceptable approach to the land issue, led to Native dissatisfaction with the commission's work. B.C. and Canada argued over the report until 1923 when, after a number of revisions, the province finally accepted it. Native dissatisfaction, expressed through such organizations as the Allied Tribes of B.C., remained, however, leading to the appointment in 1927 of a joint committee of Parliament on the same issue.

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