The Indian Register is the official record of Status Indians or Registered Indians in Canada. Status Indians have rights and benefits that are not granted to unregistered Indians, Inuit, or Métis, the chief benefits of which include the granting of reserves and of rights associated with them, an extended hunting season, a less restricted right to bear arms, an exemption from federal and provincial taxes, and more freedom in the management of gaming and tobacco franchises via less government interference and taxes.
In 1851 the colonial governments of British North America began to keep records of Indians and bands entitled to benefits under treaty. For 100 years, individual Indian agents made lists of members who belonged to each band. In 1951, the current Indian Register was established by amendment of the Indian Act, and the many band lists were combined into one.
In 1985, the Indian Act was amended again with the goal of restoring Indian status to people who had lost it through discriminatory provisions of the Act, and to their children. Over 100,000 people who had lost their status in this way have since been added to the Register.
The list is maintained by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Sole authority for determining who will be registered is vested in the post of Registrar.
The discriminatory reasons for revoking status were:
Since 1956 the Canadian federal government has issued an identity document to individuals who have status under the Indian Act. Traditionally these documents have been used by Aboriginals to cross the border between Canada and the United States.