Prompted by alarming amendments to the Indian Act, especially the 1911 "Oliver Act," which threatened the integrity of reserve lands, members of the Six Nations came to the conclusion that a national political organization was a necessity. Frederick Loft, a Mohawk war veteran, founded and was elected first president of the new League of Indians. Under Loft's inspired leadership, the league gained a following in Ontario, but was particularly successful in the West. The league fought for the preservation of reserve lands and their protection from the arbitrary hand of the government. The league also sought to protect Native rights, leading the battle against the involuntary enfranchisement provisions of the Indian Act passed in 1920. For Loft, this was a personal as well as political battle: Deputy Superintendent D.C. Scott attempted to use the enfranchisement provisions to remove Loft's Indian status and thus to derail the league. In the struggle to safeguard Native rights, the league initiated legal challenges to validate Native claims to hunting, fishing, and trapping rights, among others. The League of Indians was the first attempt by Canadian Natives to form a national organization, but the difficulties of uniting an array of Native voices, coupled with communication problems over great distances, the problem of finding leadership across the country, and active opposition from Indian Affairs, led to its demise as a national body and its evolution into the League of Indians of Western Canada.

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