Impacts: Further Opposition to the Commission

One of the foremost non-Indigenous advocates working on behalf of the Indians in British Columbia and alongside the Allied Tribes was A. E. O'Meara. A controversial character, he provided legal advice to the Indians during their ongoing dialogue with the Federal and Provincial governments from the beginning of the Royal Commission through to the carrying out of its recommendations. O'Meara was a founding member of the Society of Friends of the Indians of British Columbia which raised money for Indian political activity and sponsored public talks on issues related to the Indian land question. While this activism was well-intentioned, it has been argued that it was fixed in a paternalistic framework. The Federal government, also thinking that First Nations activism required non-Indigenous guidance, assumed that after O'Meara's death, agitation would simply fade away.

Indian Potlatch, Duncan BCIn response to the growing opposition from the First Nations organizations, the Federal government revised the Indian Act in 1927 to further limit Indian actions. Section 141 of the revised Indian Act prohibited Indians from raising money, hiring lawyers, and pursuing land claims. At the same time, the Federal government strengthened existing prohibitions against the potlatch.

Chief Simon Baker on the importance of addressing cut-off claims
Section 140 stated that Indians found participating in potlatches could be sent to prison for up to six months. The wording of Section 140 was so broad that it could have been applied to almost any gathering organized by Indians. The potlatch ban negatively impacted many features of First Nations culture, and also directly affected the freedom of First Nations people to meet, discuss, and pursue the advancement of such issues as Aboriginal Title and Rights; A third limit on First Nations' freedom to meet and organize was the restriction placed on travel off reserve. In order to leave the reserve, they first had to request permission from the Indian Agent. The Indian Agent had complete power to reject or accept requests, making it difficult for Bands to organize across reserves. All of these laws were protected and upheld by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.).

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