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Column published: 30 June 2006

Aboriginal Documentary Heritage: Historical Collections of the Canadian Government
By: Rick Roberts,   Biography & Archived Articles

This internet-based exhibition uses first-hand information to tell the story of the complex and often contentious relationship between the Canadian government and Canada's Aboriginal people from the late 1700s to the mid-20th century.

The website presents three thematic sections with essays and selected documents about the Red and Black Series (the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs' administrative records of Aboriginal people from 1872 to the 1950s), Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements, and Aboriginal Soldiers in the First World War.

This phase of the project features searchable databases of digitized records from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (RG 10) fonds. It includes records for the majority of the Red Series (documents dealing with Eastern Canadian locations in volumes 1855 to 2151 on microfilm reels C-11103 to C-11169), and the entire 524 records that form the Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements in the collection of Library and Archives Canada.

Each of these series of records includes important contextual information and access to a database of the digitized records. For example: The Red and Black Series section includes an important article for anyone wanting to understand the evolution of the Department of Indian Affairs' central registry record-keeping system. From the link you can access the descriptions of the records and the records themselves

Currently, volumes 1855 to 2151 in the Red Series are available in digital format; these volumes were scanned in black and white from microfilm reels C-11103 to C-11169. The remaining Red Series and the entire Black Series will be digitized in the upcoming year and added to this database. There are textual records for all of the volumes that were not digitized this year, which can also be searched in this database.

Source: press release LAC

Suggested reading:
  • BOOK - Understanding Ontario's First Nations Genealogical Records: Sources and Case Studies By: Dr. David K. Faux. In the process of documenting his own family history, Dr. Faux discovered many sources of genealogical data in addition to the obvious ones housed at the National Archives of Canada. In this useful work he shares his findings and, using actual cases as examples to guide the researcher, suggests ways to go about your own search. More information
  • BOOK - Records of The Federal Department Of Indian Affairs At The National Archives Of Canada Author Bill Russell discusses four groups of people reflected in these documents and guides readers through their use for each of these groups. The status Indians, Inuit, Métis, non-status Indians, employees of the administration and members of the non-Indian population who had dealings with Indians or with the Department of Indian Affairs, such as those individuals who purchased surrendered Indian lands from the government. More information
  • BOOK - The Genealogy of The First Métis Nation Compiled by D. N. Sprague and R. P. Frye. The Genealogy of the First Métis Nation introduces the general reader to the story of the development of the Red River Métis and their dispersal west and north. Moreover, the volume contains tabular material and instruction to assist the descendants of that aboriginal population in tracing the genealogy of their ancestors to ascertain where they lived, what they did with theri land before it became part of Canada, and whether this occupancy appears to have been recognized by the government of Canada in the form of land grant during the period of disposal of Manitoba land claims between 1870 and 1882. More information
  • BOOK - Métis Legacy, A Métis Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. By Lawrence J. Barkwell, Leah Dorion and Darren R. Prefontaine, editors. The most ambitious annotated bibliography of Métis history and culture to date, Métis Legacy contains an extensive collection of Métis material culture and the largest collection of previously unpublished Métis articles ever assembled. More information
  • BOOK - Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, A Short Introduction By: Paul Robert Magocsi. The fourteen contributors and editor of this work provides a comprehensive overview of Canada's First Nations Peoples. More information
  • BOOK - The Indians Of Canada By: Diamond Jenness. First published in 1922, this remains the most comprehensive work available on Canada's Indians. More information
  • BOOK - Medicine That Walks, Disease, Medicine and the Canadian Plains Native People, 1880-1940 By: Maureen K. Lux. In this seminal work, the author takes issue with the 'biological invasion' theory of the impact of disease on plains Aboriginal people. More information
  • BOOK - Travels in the Shining IslandThe Story of James Evans and the Invention of the Cree Syllabary Alphabet. By: Roger Burford Mason. This book chronicles important events in the life of the extraordinary methodist missionary, James Evans (1801 - 1846). It was Evans who created a written alphabet in Native languages that remains in use to the present time. More information
  • BOOK - Speedy Justice, The Tragic last Voyage of His Majesty's Vessel Speedy By: Brendan O'Brien.In 1804 - The trial never took place: the Speedy vanished in a storm on Lake Ontario, taking with her the accused (an Ojibwa), his jailer, the judge, the lawyers, and all other passengers. More information
  • BOOK - Biographical Resources At the Hudson's Bay Company Archives. Volume I. By: Elizabeth Briggs and Anne Morton. The First Company Archivist, Richard Leveson Gower, answered many questions on the activities of former employees and Committee members. A large portion of the sixty feet of "Search Files" consists of notes made by subsequent archivists in response to such requests. Though the bulk of the material is about British employees of the Hudson's Bay company, many of those Hudson Bay employees settled with First Nations wifes. More Information

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