The revisions to the Indian Act passed in 1951 encompassed something of a revolution in the treatment of Natives by the Canadian government. Full privileges of citizenship, including voting rights under qualification, were conferred upon the Native population. Band councils acquired considerable authority over reserve lands, including the administration of funds and local by-laws. The election of band councils was to be by secret ballot, with Native women participating for the first time since the imposition of the original Indian Act. Restrictions upon political organizations and Native religious and cultural life, such as community dances and Potlatch ceremonies, were lifted. Although the Indian Act remained imperfect, and the supervisory role of the minister remained in effect with minor curtailments, Native bands now had the power to seek the funds and legal expertise necessary to pursue claims through the courts and to press for further reforms in the provincial and federal legislatures.

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Chinook Multimedia

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