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Indian Policy and Legislation: Aboriginal Identity Survival in Canada


  • Maria C. Manzano-Munguía

    1. The New School for Public Engagement
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    • Dr Manzano-Munguía is adjunct faculty at The New School for Public Engagement, New York, NY. She has published on issues related to First Nations diasporas, native non-governmental organizations, Aboriginal leaders in urban centres, and Aboriginal-state relations. Her current areas of interest include forced transnationalism in the American Frontier and the social and economic exclusion of Aboriginal people in urban areas. E-mail:


This article examines the socio-historical construction of Indian policy and legislation as the processes set out to making the ‘Indian’ population legible to its rulers during the pre- and post-confederation periods in Upper Canada. I aim to demonstrate how Indian policy and legislation materialised into concrete actions that attempted to assimilate, civilise, and protect the ‘Indians’ by deploying different instruments of control or governmentalities, such as the residential school and reserve system. Nonetheless, resistance and political positioning of Indigenous people is present, and post-confederation Indian policymaking in Canada is a much more negotiated process.