This article is an examination of the impact of the pass system on First Nations people from the Treaty 4 District of Western Canada. The pass system, which was implemented by the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) in 1885, was a system of administrative control that required many treaty people to obtain the permission of DIA staff before traveling off-reserve. The article is inspired by Alex Williams’s recent documentary The Pass System, which draws on the testimony of Indigenous elders while challenging accepted wisdom about both the impacts of the pass system and the length of its implementation. Through the examination of four case studies, the article shows how the pass system was applied indiscriminately, disrupting not only the free movement of First Nations people but also their governance structures. Finally, the article suggests that many Treaty Four people may have acquiesced to the pass system for the most part but resisted most vociferously in the context of the DIA’s attempt to curtail Nehiyaw ceremonies.

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