Access the fonds-level description for RG 10 / R216.
Throughout the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, it was the British Imperial Government which, mainly through the actions of its military commanders, governors general, and lieutenant governors between European colonists and the original peoples of North America. In the Maritimes, the colonial legislatures of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island dealt with Indian matters by appointing commissioners and passing legislation as specific needs arose.
In the united Canadas, the Department of Crown Lands assumed responsibility for Indian administration in Canada East and Canada West in 1860. On the Prairies and in British Columbia, the operations of the Hudson's Bay Company constituted Britain's initial dealings with the Indian nations. At Confederation, the federal Department of Secretary of State (RG 6) undertook the management of the Canadian government's role with respect to Indians in Canada, then shifting to the Department of the Interior (RG 15) in 1873. In 1880 a separate Department of Indian Affairs was created, which gave full departmental status to Indian Affairs. This arrangement lasted for fifty-six years, after which Indian Affairs reverted to branch status within the following departments: Mines and Resources (see RG 21 and 22) from 1936 to 1949, Citizenship and Immigration (RG 26) from 1949 to 1965, Northern Affairs and National Resources (RG 22) from 1965 to 1966, and Indian Affairs and Northern Development (RG 22) from 1966 to the present. Inuit programs were handled by the Northern Affairs Program and its predecessors (RG 85) until 1971. At that time, the Indian and Eskimo (later Inuit) Affairs Program (RG 10) came into existence.
It remains responsible for native self-government and a wide variety of aboriginal claims, for the registration of Indian lands and membership, and for funding of education, economic development, and social assistance. Finally, under the current Indian Affairs' policy of devolution, a greater degree of responsibility for the administration of many important services is being transferred to individual Indian bands.