VIEW-1442 | "Indian office", Winnipeg, MB, 1884

 
Photograph
"Indian office", Winnipeg, MB, 1884
William McFarlane Notman
1884, 19th century
Silver salts, paint (retouching) on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-1442
© McCord Museum
Description
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , civic (349) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

The Indian Act, passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1876, was officially designed to protect First Nations people and their reserve land. However, as "protectors", government officials gave themselves the right to decide what was good for these people and what was not. Under the Indian Act, indigenous customs considered harmful, such as the Potlach on the West Coast and the Sun Dance on the Prairies, were banned. The goal was to train Aboriginal people to become part of mainstream society, and to do this, authorities felt, their culture had to be suppressed. The Indian Office in Winnipeg was the centre of a bureaucracy that directed many aspects of the lives of First Nations people, generally with the best of intentions, but often with very poor results.

  • What

    This is a photograph of a stone office building, the "Indian Office" in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

  • Where

    Winnipeg was the administrative centre for the Indian agents and the rest of the bureaucracy that dealt with First Nations people in the Prairie provinces.

  • When

    The photograph was taken in 1884, eleven years after the passing of the Indian Act.

  • Who

    This neat, pleasant building is shown with no human figures. Critics of the Indian Act would say that its policies were similarly dehumanizing.