Indian Affairs Record Group 10 (RG10) Inventory

Background:

The records found in RG 10 contain the historical records relating to Indian Affairs created by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and its predecessors. They include files, correspondence, letters, and transcripts on all aspects of Indian administration for both headquarters and the field offices.

Among the activities of the Indian Affairs Program of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development are the management of Indian reserves and lands, trust funds, education, and agriculture. This management has been carried out through a hierarchical structure of band, district, and regional offices across Canada. All records in RG 10 are organized into four separate series: Pre-Confederation, Headquarters, Field, and Land records.

Pre-Confederation Records:

The records of the Imperial and Colonial Governments were created prior to the establishment of a formal file system; consequently, these records, which date from the 1700's, were kept and arranged in chronological order as they were received by the various offices.

Headquarters Records:

The headquarters records are extremely valuable for documenting department-wide policies and providing a national view of Indian affairs. Useful general indexes to these records include:
  • The Red (Eastern) Series Index (Finding aid 10-10);
  • the Black (Western) Series Index (Finding aid 10-13);
  • the Central Registry Series Index (Finding aids 10-18, 10-19, 10-20, 10-21, 10-22, 10-24, 10-25, 10-26, 10-27, 10-28, 10-29, 10-93, 10-175, 10-50, 10-75, 10-103, 10-73, 10-45, 10-32, 10-89, microfiche Finding aids 10-128 and 10-129);
  • the School Files Index (Finding aid 10-17);
  • and history card Indexes to Headquarters Records (microfiche Finding aid 10-96).

Field Office Records:

The field offices have gone through numerous re-organizations, amalgamations and closures over the last one hundred and fifty years. Records produced by the field offices, such as superintendencies, commissions, agencies, districts, or regional offices may contain unique information and provide a different perspective on administration of the department's programs. The National Archives of Canada has a selected, yet sparse, amount of material from the field offices.

Land Records:

These records include land agreements involving treaties, surrenders, inspections, patents, claims, leases, permits, plans, surveys, location ticket registers, natural resources and related documents.

List of Record Groups relating to Aboriginal documentary heritage 

The primary source of records relating to Native peoples is Record Group 10; however, associated documents may be scattered through a broad range of federal government records. The following list provides a few of the Record Groups in which records relating to Indian Affairs and Native peoples may be found. This is not a comprehensive list.

  • RG 2 Privy Council Office
  • RG 15 Department of the Interior
  • RG 18 Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • RG 22 Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • RG 23 Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • RG 29 National Health and Welfare
  • RG 30 Canadian National Railways
  • RG 84 Canadian Parks Service
  • RG 85 Northern Affairs Program
  • RG 88 Surveys and Mapping Branch
  • RG 91 Yukon Territorial Records

Finding Aids for Aboriginal documentary heritage

To date, four guides have been produced which trace the administration of bands in specific areas of Canada, they are:

Finding Aid 10-12: Guide to Indian Bands and Agencies in Western Canada, 1871-1959;

Finding Aid 10-157: Guide to Indian Affairs Field Office Organization in Ontario, 1845-1990;

Finding Aid 10-202: Guide to Indian Bands and Agencies in British Columbia, 1875-1990.

Finding Aid 10-181 (available on site only): Guide to Indian Affairs Field Office Organization in Northwestern British Columbia.

Research Tips

R216 and RG10

R216 is the archival reference number given to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds. You can access the fonds-level description using the Archives Search tool.

R216 incorporates all the records described under Record Group (RG) 22 (Mines Branch sous-fonds), RG 10 (Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds), RG 85 (Northern Affairs program), RG 91 (Yukon Territorial Records sous-fonds), and RG 126 (Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry).

Related record groups (RG 10, 22, 85, 126) have been combined into the R216 fonds to more accurately show the relationship between the records' creators. While Library and Archives Canada will continue to arrange and describe government records in fonds such as R216, it will also maintain the present RG references.

You can search for records using either the former RG number or the fonds number (R number).

  • Use the R number as a keyword to locate records in Archives Search. To conduct a search for material within the fonds, use a short version of the reference: R216.
  • You can also use the former archival reference number as a search keyword (e.g., RG10-B-3-A).
  • Series within R216 also have R numbers. For example, R216-244-6-E is the series-level reference for the Red and Black Series. To search for a specific series, use R216 as a keyword and set the "Hierarchical level" option to "Series." You can add up to two more keywords or phrases (e.g., "Central registry files") for each search.

For general information on how to begin research using RG 10 records, and suggestions regarding federal government records which may be useful for Native claims research, consult the guides in finding aid 10-182.

Note: References are found throughout this Inventory to accessions of, as yet, unprocessed records. They are identified by Accession number, location of records (whether in Ottawa or one of the regional Federal Records Centres), and number of boxes of material; where applicable, a finding aid number is provided. Accessions up to and including number 1994-95/453 are included.

Researchers should note that not all the records in an accession will necessarily be retained permanently after processing. Moreover, since the processing of accessions within the Government Archives Division is on-going, records listed in this inventory as being in accessions may be processed and assigned to permanent volumes within RG 10 between the time when this document is published and the time the researcher wishes to consult the records.

Access to records described in this inventory is governed by the provisions of the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and regulations made pursuant to the legislation.

Many containers in this Record Group contain records that are available immediately for research purposes. In that case, researchers should complete a Request for Archival Material form and present it to the Circulation Desk on the 3rd floor of the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Other containers contain records that require review under the provisions of the legislation to determine which records can be made available.

Administrative Outline

Throughout the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, it was the British Imperial Government which, mainly through the actions of its military commanders, governors general, and lieutenant governors between European colonists and the original peoples of North America. In the Maritimes, the colonial legislatures of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island dealt with Indian matters by appointing commissioners and passing legislation as specific needs arose.

In the united Canadas, the Department of Crown Lands assumed responsibility for Indian administration in Canada East and Canada West in 1860. On the Prairies and in British Columbia, the operations of the Hudson's Bay Company constituted Britain's initial dealings with the Indian nations. At Confederation, the federal Department of Secretary of State (RG 6) undertook the management of the Canadian government's role with respect to Indians in Canada, then shifting to the Department of the Interior (RG 15) in 1873. In 1880 a separate Department of Indian Affairs was created, which gave full departmental status to Indian Affairs. This arrangement lasted for fifty-six years, after which Indian Affairs reverted to branch status within the following departments: Mines and Resources (see RG 21 and 22) from 1936 to 1949, Citizenship and Immigration (RG 26) from 1949 to 1965, Northern Affairs and National Resources (RG 22) from 1965 to 1966, and Indian Affairs and Northern Development (RG 22) from 1966 to the present. Inuit programs were handled by the Northern Affairs Program and its predecessors (RG 85) until 1971. At that time, the Indian and Eskimo (later Inuit) Affairs Program (RG 10) came into existence.

It remains responsible for native self-government and a wide variety of aboriginal claims, for the registration of Indian lands and membership, and for funding of education, economic development, and social assistance. Finally, under the current Indian Affairs' policy of devolution, a greater degree of responsibility for the administration of many important services is being transferred to individual Indian bands.