Band government

In Canada, an Indian band or band (French: bande indienne), sometimes referred to as a First Nation band (French: bande de la Première Nation) or simply a First Nation, is the basic unit of government for those peoples subject to the Indian Act (i.e. Status Indians or First Nations).[1] Bands are typically small groups of people: the largest in the country, the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation had 22,294 members in September 2005, and many have a membership below 100 people. Each First Nation is typically represented by a band council (French: conseil de bande) chaired by an elected chief, and sometimes also a hereditary chief. As of 2013, there were 614 bands in Canada.[2] Membership in a band is controlled in one of two ways: for most bands, membership is obtained by becoming listed on the Indian Register maintained by the government. As of 2013, there were 253 First Nations which had their own membership criteria, so that not all Status Indians are members of a band.[2]

Bands can be united into larger regional groupings called tribal councils. There is also another kind of organization called a treaty council or treaty association, which in most provinces represents signatory bands of treatied areas (though in most of British Columbia, which is mostly untreatied, those bodies are for forming and negotiating future treaty claims). Another emerging type of organization in British Columbia are chiefs' councils, such as the St'at'imc Chiefs Council, which unites bands not included in tribal councils with those in tribal councils. Bands also typically belong to one or more kinds of provincial council or similar organization, and also the pan-Canadian Assembly of First Nations (formerly called the Native Indian Brotherhood), chaired by a leader elected with each band having one vote, rather than at large. Bands are, to an extent, the governing body for their Indian reserves. Many First Nations also have large off-reserve populations whom the band government also represents, and may also deal with non-members who live on reserve or work for the band.

Non-Status Indians, Métis, and Inuit people are not part of the system of band governments and reserves, and this is one of the major differences between their legal and social situation and those governed by band councils. The courts have ruled that constitutional reference to "Indians" (section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867) applies to the Inuit (Re Eskimos 1939) as well as Métis and non-Status Indians (Daniels v. Canada 2013), but their relations with the federal government are not governed by the terms of in the Indian Act.


A Band is typically, but not always, composed of a single community. Many bands, especially in British Columbia, control multiple Indian reserves, that is, multiple parcels of land. Although bands currently have considerable control over their reserve land, strictly speaking neither the band itself nor its members owns the land. Rather, the land is held in trust for the band by the Crown.[3]

The term band is historically related to the anthropological term band society, but as a legal and administrative unit the band need not correspond to a band in this sense. Some bands draw their members from two or more ethnic groups due to the disruption of traditional ways by colonization and/or the administrative convenience of Canada, or by consensual alliances between such groups, some pre-dating the Indian Act.

The functioning of a band is controlled by the Indian Act, the legislation that defines the position of status Indians. The band government is controlled by a chief councillor and council. The number of councillors is determined by the number of band members, with a minimum of two in addition to the chief councillor. The Indian Act specifies procedures for the election of the chief councillor and council. Some bands make use of a policy provision (called 'custom election') that allows them to exempt themselves from these requirements in order to follow traditional procedures for the choice of leaders. This is a matter of controversy. Proponents argue that it allows First Nations to adapt the externally defined system to their traditions. Sometimes this means that 'hereditary' leaders become the chief councillor. Opponents argue that custom systems are frequently not traditional and that, traditional or not, they are unfair and undemocratic and have the effect of preserving the power of corrupt cliques and, in many cases, of excluding women; and also excluding hereditary leaders.[4] The term "Chief" actually refers to a chief councillor - this individual is not necessarily a hereditary chief or leader, though some are.

Although the current policy of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is to treat band governments as largely autonomous, under the Indian Act band council resolutions have no effect unless endorsed by the Minister of AANDC.

In addition to the chief and council system mandated by the Indian Act, some bands have a traditional system of government that retains considerable influence. In some cases the two systems have come to an accommodation, such as the Office of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en. In other cases the two are in conflict.

Tribal council

Two or more bands may unite to form a tribal council. Tribal councils have no independent status; they draw their powers entirely from their member bands. What powers are delegated to the tribal council and which services are provided centrally by the tribal council varies according to the wishes of the member bands.[5]

Other organizations

In addition to tribal councils, bands may create joint organizations for particular purposes, such as providing social services or health care. For example, in the central interior of British Columbia, Carrier Sekani Family Services provides social services for a dozen bands. CSFS was originally a part of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council but is now a separate organization and includes among its members bands that are not members of CSTC.

During treaty negotiations, such as those attempted by the BC provincial government in the form of the British Columbia Treaty Process, bands claims are coordinated and negotiated, if negotiated, by treaty councils, some of whose composition may correspond to the local tribal council, such as the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council vs the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council, though in that particular case American tribal governments belong to the former but not to the latter. Others like the Maa-nulth Treaty Association or the Temexw Treaty Group, span different tribal councils and individual bands, covering more than one ethnic group. Another organization called a chiefs council may include bands belong to one or more tribal councils and also individual bands which belong to none, such as the St'at'imc Chiefs Council, which serves as a common voice for all St'at'imc and which formally does not acknowledge Crown sovereignty. They have been facing so many trash results from the society.

In other provinces, where treaties already exist, a treaty group or treaty association is composed of bands already signatory to existing treaties such as Treaty 6 and Treaty 8.


A further complication is created by the existence of groups of Indian descent whose Indian Status is not recognized by Canada. These are often the descendants of bands considered by Canada to have become extinct. Such groups have no official existence but may nonetheless have some degree of political organization. The Sinixt who are now based mostly in Washington State as part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, but have a small group of representatives based at Vallican BC are an example of such a politically active group with no legally recognized band government in Canada some of whose members still have Indian status (in the US) and ongoing land claims in British Columbia.

National organizations

In addition to tribal councils and special-purpose service organizations, bands may form larger organizations. The largest is the Assembly of First Nations, which represents the chiefs of over 600 bands throughout Canada. There are also some regional organizations. The Chief of the AFN is referred to as the National Chief. The AFN also has a Vice-Chief for each region.

Provincial and territorial organizations

In British Columbia, the First Nations Summit represents the approximately two-thirds of bands in the province that are engaged in treaty negotiations with Canada and British Columbia, while an older organization, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, represents the bands that reject the current British Columbia Treaty Process. Some bands belong to both. In Ontario, the Chiefs of Ontario serve as the provincial-level organization; in Saskatchewan, the provincial-level grouping is the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Inuit and Métis

From a constitutional point of view, not all indigenous people are First Nations people. In addition to Indians, the Constitution (section 35.2) recognizes two other indigenous groups: the Inuit and the Métis. The national organization of the Inuit is the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. The self-governing territory of Nunavut is inhabited primarily by Inuit people. The status of the Métis remains unresolved but has been the subject of recent negotiations leading to the Métis Nation Framework Agreement between various Métis organizations and Canada.

See also


  1. ^ "Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage". Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-15.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-22. Retrieved 2013-09-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Assembly of First Nations - The Story". The Assembly of First Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02.
  4. ^ Graham, John (April 2010). "The First Nation Governance System: A Brake on Closing the Community Well-being Gap" (PDF). Institute on Governance. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Consolidated Statement of Revenue and Expenses" (PDF). AFN Executive Committee Reports. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2009-11-02.

External links

Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing

The Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing (Big Island) is a First Nation band government in Ontario. They are a member of the Anishinabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council, which is a part of the Grand Council of Treaty 3. Their reserves include:

Agency 30 (shared with 12 other First Nations)

Big Island 31D

Big Island 31E

Big Island 31F

Big Island Mainland 93

Lake of the Woods 31B

Lake of the Woods 31C

Lake of the Woods 31G

Lake of the Woods 31H

Naongashing 31A

Saug-a-Gaw-Sing 1

Shoal Lake 31J

Big Grassy First Nation

Big Grassy First Nation (or Mishkosiminiziibiing Anishinaabeg in the Ojibwe language) is an Ojibwe or Ontario Saulteaux First Nation band government located in Rainy River District, Ontario near Morson, Ontario. Together with the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation, Big Grassy First Nation is a successor apparent to the former Assabaska Band of Saulteaux. Total registered population in February, 2012, was 721, of which the on-reserve population was 228. The First Nation is a member of the Anishinabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council, a regional tribal council that is a member of the Grand Council of Treaty 3.

Duck Lake, Saskatchewan

Duck Lake is a town in the boreal forest of central Saskatchewan, Canada. Its location is 88 km (55 mi) north of Saskatoon and 44 km (27 mi) south of Prince Albert on highway 11, in the rural municipality of Duck Lake. Immediately to the north of Duck Lake is the south block of the Nisbet Provincial Forest.

It is also the administrative centre of the Beardy's and Okemasis Cree First Nations band government.

Duck Lake was home to one of the last operating Residential Schools in Canada, St. Michael's Indian Residential School (Duck Lake Indian Residential School), which closed in 1996.

Duncan's 151A

Duncan's 151A is an Indian reserve in Alberta. It is under the jurisdiction of the Duncan's First Nation band government.

Keewaywin First Nation

Keewaywin is a small Oji-Cree First Nation band government in Northern Ontario, located north of Red Lake, Ontario. It is connected to Sandy Lake First Nation by Sandy Lake. It is part of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Council (Northern Chiefs) and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Sandy Lake First Nation Band members separated from Sandy Lake First Nation[1] to form Keewaywin First Nation.[2] The Indian reserve is entirely surrounded by territory of the Unorganized Kenora District.

Keewaywin is policed by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, an Aboriginal-based service.

Little Red River Cree Nation

The Little Red River Cree Nation is a First Nations band government in northern Alberta, headquartered at John D'Or Prairie.

Montana First Nation

The Montana First Nation is a band government in Alberta, Canada. It is a Treaty 6 government. Formerly the Montana Band of Indians, it is one of four First Nations in the area of Maskwacis.

Montreal Lake Cree Nation

Montreal Lake Cree Nation is a Woodland Cree First Nation in the boreal forest of central Saskatchewan, Canada. Its reserve, Montreal Lake 106, is on the southern shore of Montreal Lake 103 km (64 miles) north of Prince Albert and 167 km (104 miles) south of La Ronge. Highway 969 passes through the village.

Norquay, Saskatchewan

Norquay is a town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It was named after John Norquay, premier of Manitoba from 1878 to 1887. It is the administrative headquarters of the Key Saulteaux First Nation band government.


Oromocto (2016 population: 9,223) is a Canadian town in Sunbury County, New Brunswick.

This town is located on the west bank of the Saint John River at the mouth of the Oromocto River, approximately 20 kilometres southeast of Fredericton. The town's name is derived from the name of the Oromocto River; "oromocto" is thought to have originated from the Maliseet word welamukotuk which means "deep water".

It is the administrative headquarters of the Oromocto First Nation band government and the site of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, which dominates its economy and modern history.

Poplar Hill First Nation

Poplar Hill First Nation is an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) First Nation band government, approximately 120 km north of Red Lake near the Ontario-Manitoba border. The First Nation is accessible by air and winter road. In May 2016, the First Nation had a registered population of 473 people.

Raymore, Saskatchewan

Raymore is a town in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is 110 km north of Regina.

It is the administrative headquarters of the Kawacatoose Cree First Nation band government.

Sandy Lake First Nation

Sandy Lake First Nation (or Negaw-zaaga'igani Nitam-Anishinaabe, Oji-Cree: ᓀᑲᐤ ᕊᑲᐃᑲᓂᐣ᙮) is an independent Oji-Cree First Nations band government. The First Nations community, in the west part of Northern Ontario, is located in the Kenora District, 227 km (141 mi) northeast of Red Lake, Ontario. Its registered population in June 2007 was 2,474. As of December 2015 the total registered population reached 3,034. Sandy Lake First Nation maintains an affiliation with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, as a signatory to the Treaty 5.

Sandy Lake is policed by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, an Aboriginal-based service.


Sintaluta is a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. The current population of Sintaluta is approximately 98 people (according to the last Canadian Census done in 2006). The town is located about 85 km east of Regina. The town is located on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway.

It is the administrative headquarters of the Carry the Kettle Nakoda First Nations band government.

Slate Falls First Nation

Slate Falls First Nation is an Ojibwe First Nation band government in Ontario. It has a settlement at Slate Falls in Kenora District, Ontario. In March 2018, CBC News reported that an $11m water treatment facility was opened in the community to provide safe and clean drinking water.

Stoughton, Saskatchewan

Stoughton is a town in Saskatchewan, Canada. In 2011 it had a population of 694.

The origins of the name is unknown, but it was provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1904 and became a town in 1960.A small police service, the Stoughton Police Service no longer exists and is now in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to provide policing service to the town and surrounding area. This town is approximately eighty-eight miles southeast of Regina. It is the administrative headquarters of the Ocean Man First Nations band government. They contain three nations which are Assiniboine, Saulteaux and Cree.

Stoughton cross roads inn is an alright place to go. Sometimes...

The town is served by Highway 13, Highway 33 and Highway 47.

Villeneuve, Alberta

Villeneuve is a hamlet in central Alberta, Canada within Sturgeon County. It is located on Highway 44, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northwest of Edmonton's city limits. It is home to the Michel First Nations band government.

Wadena, Saskatchewan

Wadena is a town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, located east of Saskatoon, north of Fort Qu'Appelle and north-west of Yorkton on the eastern shore of the Quill Lakes. The town is known for its birdwatching opportunities, and hosts the Shorebirds and Friends Festival every year. The Wadena and District Museum, located just south of Wadena on Highway 35, also hosts an annual Vintage Day in August. Its population in the 2011 Canada Census was 1,306.Wadena is the administrative centre of the Rural Municipality of Lakeview. It is also the administrative headquarters of the Fishing Lake Saulteaux First Nation band government.The town is named for Wadena, Minnesota, the place of origin of some early settlers of Scandinavian American descent.

Weenusk First Nation

Weenusk First Nation (Cree: ᐧᐄᓈᐢᑯ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ (Wīnāsko Ininiwak); unpointed: ᐧᐃᓇᐢᑯ ᐃᓂᓂᐧᐊᐠ) is a Cree First Nation band government in the Canadian province of Ontario. In September, 2007, its total registered population was 516. Weenusk First Nation was an independent member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) but now have joined the Mushkegowuk Council, a regional tribal council, who is also a member of NAN.

Weenusk First Nation's reserve is the 5310 ha Winisk Indian Reserve 90. Associated with the reserve is their Winisk Indian Settlement also known as Peawanuck, which also holds reserve status. Originally, the Weenusk First Nation was located within their reserve, but they were forced to move 30 km (19 mi) southwest to Peawanuck when on May 16, 1986, spring floods swept away much of the original settlement, which had been located 6 km (4 mi) upriver from Hudson Bay.

In the Cree language, "Peawanuck" means "a place where flint is found," while "Weenusk" means "ground hog." The community, being primarily Swampy Cree, speaks the n-dialect of the Cree language. Being that the community is composed of Cree, Oji-cree, Ojibwa and Métis peoples, in addition to Cree, Anishininiimowin and Ojibwemowin are also spoken here.

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