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Indian status was seen as a transitional state, protecting First Nations peoples until they became settled on the land and acquired European agricultural habits.
A non-status woman who married a man with status would gain status herself.
In other words, simply having First Nations heritage was not enough to qualify for status.
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples called such registrations, heavily restricted in regards to women, a “legal fiction.” For example, the “double mother” rule revoked a child’s status on its 21st birthday if both its mother and grandmother had not qualified for status.
These policies aimed to assimilate First Nations peoples into the growing settler population, while also protecting them and their lands.
Legislation concerning First Nations peoples required a definition of what the government considered to be an “Indian.” The 1850 was one of the first pieces of legislation that included a set of requirements for a person to be considered a legal Indian — a precursor to the concept of “status.” These requirements were based on blood, and essentially said that people “shall be considered as Indians” if they were of “Indian blood” and were members of a “Body or Tribe of Indians.” All descendants of such people, non-Indians who “intermarried with such Indians,” people whose parents (one or both) would have been considered Indians, and “all persons adopted in infancy by any such Indians,” were also considered to be Indian.
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This was initially meant to be accomplished by the through voluntary enfranchisement (i.e., a First Nations person would relinquish their status in exchange for land and the right to vote), but only one person voluntarily enfranchised.