Talking Back to the Indian Act: Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories

Book, 2018, 218 pp
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Talking Back to the Indian Act is a comprehensive "how-to" guide for engaging with primary source documents. The intent of the book is to encourage readers to develop the skills necessary to converse with primary sources in more refined and profound ways. As a piece of legislation that is central to Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities, and one that has undergone many amendments, the Indian Act is uniquely positioned to act as a vehicle for this kind of focused reading.

Through an analysis of thirty-five sources pertaining to the Indian Act—addressing governance, gender, enfranchisement, and land—the authors provide readers with a much better understanding of this pivotal piece of legislation, as well as insight into the dynamics involved in its creation and maintenance.


  • a diverse set of sources including interviews, debates in the House of Commons on the Indian Act, memoranda, and letters
  • background on the Indian Act and two methodologies (one non-indigenous and one indigenous) for thinking historically about the Act: the 5Cs and the 4Rs
  • 7 maps and 14 images to visually contextualize the narrative
  • a thoughtful set of questions to stimulate student thinking about how historical sources come to be, how they are formed and what impact they have both at the time they are created and afterwards (Appendix A)
  • a historical context timeline for the Indian Act (Appendix B)

ExpressionGeneral Writing/Recording
TopicIndian Act
PublisherUniversity of Toronto Press

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