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Indigenous Law

     Indigenous law governs the various issues pertaining to the Aboriginal population of Canada. This body of laws also serves to interpret and govern the established treaties between the Aboriginal people and the government. This body of laws include the Indian Act, the First Nations Land Management Act, and the Indian Oil and Gas Act. These acts were enacted under the power of the 1867 Constitution Act.

 

     The Indian Act was enacted in 1876 and gives certain provisions and rights to all those defined legally as an 'Indian'. This act also sets the framework for the existence and use of Aboriginal reserves. In 1985, Bill C-31 was passed to amend parts of the act. This bill was passed to end discriminatory parts to the original act, change the meaning of Indian status, and allow bands to define their own membership rules. Refining Indian status was especially important because it also reinstated some who lost their status as an Indian. Prior to this bill, Indians would lose status if they married a man who was not an Indian or being born out of wedlock to an Indian mother, but a non-Indian father amongst other reasons.