The Queen v. Drybones was decided in the Supreme Court in 1970. It was the final stage in the lifting of restrictions on alcohol and alcoholic consumption imposed on Natives. The first restrictions had come about in the 1870s as a government response to a genuine Native concern about the effect of alcohol on their societies. These concerns were enshrined in the treaties, usually in the form of a prohibition against alcohol on reserves. Gradually they were transformed into a coercive measure governing Native behaviour. Legislation in 1874 expanded the offence. Previously, only selling alcohol to Natives was illegal, but, under the new law, it was also a crime for a Native person to be drunk. In 1876, the Indian Act prohibited possession of alcohol by Natives on a reserve. The revision of the Indian Act in 1951 relaxed some of the restrictions, but retained the clause making it an offence for a Native to be drunk. In The Queen v. Drybones, the Supreme Court struck down off-reserve intoxication as an offence, on the grounds that such a restriction violated the Canadian Bill of Rights. All provisions relating to alcohol were subsequently deleted from the Indian Act, and on-reserve regulations governing alcohol are now completely controlled by bands and band councils.

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