The Image of the Indian: The Canadian Indian as a Subject and a Concept in a Sampling of the Popular National Magazines Read in Canada, 1900-1970

By Ronald Graham Haycock | Go to book overview

PART II
HUMANITARIAN AWARENESS AND GUILT 1930 - 1960

If the previous thirty years were characterized by social Darwinism, then the next thirty were made so by 'social humanitarianism'. The First World War had initiated changes that were destined to reorder the social and moral concepts of Canadians. It became more an age of increasing secularism.1 Humanitarian interest on a wide, depersonalized scale replaced the humane individualism; social action reached politics as well as the minds; and efficiency for all society entered the intellect. As a result of these new mores Lower says Canadians "stood ready to convert fellow-feeling into efficiency, neighbour into social worker".2

How did this affect the popular view of the Indian? Writers became more aware of his debased status. They were more interested in the facets of his life, culture, art, and well-being. These had hithertofore hardly attracted attention. Canadians read that the Indian could still play an active and, indeed, an honourable role in society, even though he had to suffer a depression and fight in another war to prove it. The new awareness evidenced in the essays was not just solely a product of the depression and the Second World War. Granted these were historical accidents in which all Canadians, Indians included, were driven towards a common denominator, yet the articles like those of Grey Owl, Elizabeth Fleming and P. H. Godsell also indicate that the technology of the white man was, as ever, breaking into the territory and life-style of the Indian. The new awareness was just as much a product of the growing proximity and the technological comparison as it was the common experience of depression and battle. Writers also wanted society to be efficient. This efficiency meant reform and Indian affairs was a prime place to do this. Canadians were acutely aware of their complicity in the disintegration of the Indian culture. Many were beginning to explore the native with a whole new conviction as they shed many of the old concepts in light of the new. The Indian himself became increasingly more aware and more vocal, albeit small. The government attitude seemed to fall in line with the public mind. Canadians still read about Indians in the national, popular magazine press in the same categories as before, but, indicative of the new social awareness and action, the section on contemporary affairs comprised fifty percent of all articles reviewed in the last thirty years. Like the years before it, this period asked about the question of survival of the Indian, but unlike the former, the tone of essays was much more sympathetic to Indian survival.

____________________
1
Lower, Canadians in the Making, p. 417.
2
Ibid., pp. 412-413. Also see pp. 429-432.

-28-

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The Image of the Indian: The Canadian Indian as a Subject and a Concept in a Sampling of the Popular National Magazines Read in Canada, 1900-1970
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • The Wlu Monograph Series ii
  • Acknowledgements iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents viii
  • Part I- The Poor Doomed Savage 1900-1930 1
  • Part II- Humanitarian Awareness and Guilt 1930 - 1960 28
  • Part III- The Struggle For Equality and Civil Rights 1960 - 1970 56
  • Conclusion 90
  • Bibliography 93
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