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

CONCLUSION

In the general view of the years explored, the onset saw ideas that were remarkably and characteristically Social-Darwinistic in view. The natives were the perennial children of nature, noble savages, or lazy, shiftless and negligent. As such, they were to be tolerated, regulated, and eventually assimilated. The Great War shook this remote outlook but did not demolish it. However, the cracks caused by crisis, evolved into larger splits. The interest of the Indian, and in the Indian, grew steadily during the inter-war years and by the height of the depression it was obvious that writers were having serious reservations about the nobility of earlier conceptions and methods. They began to explore the Indian in closer detail, to see the miniscule evils of the white man's own creation and to develop an attitude that wanted a humane improvement in the administration of Indians and the conceptions of him. The focus became clearer again with the holocaust of war. The Indian was made to appear as if he responded with equal alacrity as did other Canadians -- indeed more so. In the reader's mind he was again performing a definite role. As in the days when his forebears by their military value were playing active parts and thereby forcing attention, so he did in this war. It is likely, however, that Canadians were ready to look willingly this time, for the literature indicates the stage was set. War brought it into play faster. The years after the Second War, like the ones after the First, saw a spurt of activity, then a dwindling, as memories dulled and agitators came closer to satisfaction. The tenor of the times had greatly changed. Social interest, awareness of the 'whole' Indian, a desire for reform and active government sympathy were replacing the paternalism, Social-Darwinism and noble savage concepts of the beginning of the century.

Journalists again picked up the cause of the Indian about 1960. The complexion of the new interest was different than it had been in the last thirty years. However, this change in the last decade was not as profound as the one between 1900 and the 'thirties in which Social-Darwinism was replaced by a more humane attitude. It would seem that the new perception in the 'sixties was an evolutionary outgrowth or an extension of a social humanitarianism which came before it. The direction in the 'sixties was on equality, civil rights, and better conditions for the Indian, as it was part of the greater social crisis in the world at the time. The government administration of Indian affairs and the reservation were the central points of criticism.

Once the new direction was defined the rest of the period held a feeling of impending change -- change in the manner of reform. The majority of writers were in sympathy with the plight of the Indian. They were quick to reveal what they considered to be the abuses and the inequities of Indian life. As such, they acted as custodians of the new social humanitarian feeling. Many enclaves of white discrimination, scorn, apathy, and Darwinistic ideas were revealed by these authors. However, if this was so, the same people held that it was changing. The government was trying to help. The public was more aware and more interested in doing something about the guilt with which they had identified so shortly before. No doubt some of the old biases were still present; no doubt there was

-90-

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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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