THE POOR DOOMED SAVAGE 1900-1930
The first thirty years of the Twentieth Century saw the Indian portrayed under five broad themes in the national popular magazines: religion, customs and manners, travelogue, popular history, and contemporary Indian affairs. Throughout these five recurrent ideas there generally ranges three basic threads of conception (either singly or in some combination) about the Canadian Indian. The most obvious is a Darwinistic paternalism: the red man is doomed to assimilation by the incursion of Anglo-Saxons because he is unable to survive in competitive evolution. The white, however, is trying his best to make the death struggle of the primative as soft as possible. The second view is that Indians are noble savages, children of nature who have prowess, cunning and dignity, yet tend to be ignorant and slothful in Anglo-Saxon eyes. The third conception is that the degenerate white has corrupted the Indian, but it is also an Anglo-Saxon virtue to raise the aboriginal to hitherto unprecedented levels of civilization and salvation, fashioned on the white model.
In the religious articles, the primary concern is with the Christianization of the Canadian Indian. Of five articles examined, two were written in a secular magazine, while the other three were published in religious periodicals. Canadian journalist and one of the founders of the Montreal Star, Marshall Scott,1 writing in Canadian Magazine in 1900, adamantly demanded that all paganism among Indians must be stamped out.2 In this piece of sensational journalism, the author described the ghoulish pagan practices, and as well, inferred a sense of duty and repulsion among whites concerning primative people. Pagans made up thirty per cent of Canadian aboriginals but "civilization is winning its way"3 and "old pagans of inferior blood are dying out faster than men of good race who wish to improve themselves."4 Not only was God included by the author as the secret for aboriginal improvement but help would also come from "the missionaries, the mounted police and the advancing waves of progress, with the help of Section 114 of the Criminal Code of Canada which forbids and punishes certain pagan rites . . ."5____________________