As Canadian ideas of progress evolved at the turn of the century, the federal Indian policy was directed at removing Indigenous people from their communal lands and encouraging assimilation. Amendments to the Indian Act in 1905 and 1911 made it easier for the government to expropriate reserve lands from First Nations. The government sold nearly half of the Blackfoot reserve in Alberta to settlers.
When the Kainai (Blood) Nation refused to accept the sale of their lands in 1916 and 1917, the Department of Indian Affairs held back funding necessary for farming until they relented. In British Columbia, the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission was created in 1912 to settle disputes over reserve lands in the province. The claims of Indigenous people were ignored, and the commission allocated new, less valuable lands (reserves) for First Nations.
Those nations who managed to maintain their ownership of good lands often farmed successfully. Indigenous people living near the Cowichan and Fraser rivers, and those from Saskatchewan managed to produce good harvests. Since 1881, those First Nations people living in the prairie provinces required permits from Indian Agents to sell any of their produce. Later the government created a pass system in the old Northwest Territories that required indigenous people to seek written permission from an Indian Agent before leaving their reserves for any length of time. Indigenous people regularly defied those laws, as well as bans on Sun Dances and potlatches, in an attempt to practice their culture.
The 1930 Constitution Act or Natural Resources Transfer Acts was part of a shift acknowledging indigenous rights. It enabled provincial control of Crown land and allowed Provincial laws regulating game to apply to Indians, but it also ensured that “Indians shall have the right … of hunting, trapping and fishing game and fish for food at all seasons of the year on all unoccupied Crown lands and on any other lands to which the said Indians may have a right of access.”