Indian associations are highly visible features of the contemporary Indian scene. Archival research shows that in one form or another, Indian associations have been active for some time: the phenomenon can be traced back into the 19th century with the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec, founded in 1870. At least 37 different associations have been identified for the period 1870 to 1970. These associations show several common traits in historical perspective and they can be classed as Indian interest groups. Because of the closed nature of the Indian Affairs administration, however, they v/ere generally ignored o.r suppressed until the mid-1940's. On the other and, few of these associations had managed to acquire credible mandates before the 1940's. Changes in government policy in the 1960's saw increasingly important roles being delegated to Indian associations, with the result that major Indian associations are now functional parts of the Canadian political system.