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The Bands of Treaty 6

Legally, a band is defined as a group “for whose collective use and benefit lands have been set apart or money held by Crown.”1 In effect, this means that bands are not in ownership of the lands on which they reside, but rather, that the land is held in trust for them by the Crown, or government. These portions of land are known as reserves, and a band may have rights to more than one reserve.

In traditional Aboriginal life, bands emerged naturally, often made up of extended family networks or cultural groups. Bands travelled and lived together, meeting with other bands for annual celebrations and traditional ceremonies. The term ‘band’ assumed a different meaning when government legislation adopted it to refer to the many First Nations groups being allocated reserve lands. Today, a typical band consists of one community, though sometimes multiple communities might make up one band. This is often the case because two or more different cultural groups were assembled together in one area by the government for administrative purposes.

Traditionally, a band leader or chief emerged based on his leadership qualities: wisdom, strength, courage, or hunting skills. However, with the procedures set out in the Indian Act of 1876, each band was required to elect an official band council. Since that time, bands have held elections, usually every two years, to elect a chief and two or more councillors. Some bands have resisted this movement and continue to follow traditional systems of governance.


1 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. “Terminology.” Information Sheets. http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/tln_e.html (accessed August 2006).

Sources:
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. “Terminology.” Information Sheets. http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/info/tln_e.html (accessed August 2006).

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