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History Native American

Talking Back to the Indian Act

Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories

edited by Mary-Ellen Kelm & Keith Smith

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2018
Native American, Post-Confederation (1867-), Historiography
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2018
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2018
    List Price

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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.

About the authors

Mary-Ellen Kelm is a Canada Research Chair in the Department of History, Simon Fraser University. Her previous books include Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia. She is an avid animal trainer, competing in agility and obedience with her dog, Rusty. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, Don, and spends her summers outdoors, hiking and paddling in British Columbia.

Mary-Ellen Kelm's profile page

Keith D. Smith teaches in the Department of History and is Chair of the Department of First Nations Studies at Vancouver Island University.

Keith Smith's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Written in the first person, interwoven with the professional parlance of history educators, fortified with primary-source evidence, and shored up with inquiry questions, maps, and a timeline, Talking Back to the Indian Act is not an unwieldy academic tome; rather, it speaks to all Canadians. With a bit of a nudge, it would be as comfortable on a coffee table as it would be in a course syllabus."

<em>Canada’s History</em>

"This collection will engage the mind in a critical reading of the complexity of the Indian Act’s storied past and ongoing present through the documents it contains. Talking Back to the Indian Act will also engage students and those willing to learn more about a key Canadian historical document. And it will help students, Canadians, and Indigenous people to more fully engage with the TRC’s calls for action by increasing knowledge of Canada’s Settler colonialism."


"I would recommend Talking Back to the Indian Act to anyone interested in learning about the Indian Act – or in learning about the historical method. It is an easy read and I expect to see it not only in my classroom but on my summer vacation this year."

<em>BC Bookworld</em>

Other titles by Mary-Ellen Kelm