The right to be heard' : Saskatchewan First Nations and Métis political activism, 1922-1946
In past decades historians have become increasingly focussed on Native political activism in Canada. This has brought greater understanding to Native political issues and a degree of legitimization to Native political activism. Despite historians’ interest in Native politics, however, some general weaknesses remain within the historiography. In particular, there has been a general tendency to document the political actions only of eras known to be politically prominent. This practice has led to an abundance of studies focussed on the Riel Uprisings and the surge of Native activism in the 1960s but has left other periods such as the interwar era significantly underrepresented. When the interwar era is mentioned, it is generally done in order to frame such political activities as context for other issues. These tendencies have created the impression that Native political activism was sporadic and reactionary, and therefore, not an established and legitimate response to longstanding grievances. This thesis attempts to rectify this gap within the historiography of Native political activism in Saskatchewan by illustrating the extent to which Native peoples during the interwar era were politically active. In establishing that Saskatchewan Native political activism was a force throughout the interwar era, this thesis elucidates the reasons for the rise in political activism within Saskatchewan Native communities, tracing the development of First Nations and Métis political organizations which began in the early 1920s and 1930s. This work then draws attention to the political strategies developed by Natives to achieve their political goals. Highlighting the period between 1922 and 1946 as a politically significant era for Natives in Saskatchewan, this work fundamentally demonstrates that the challenges facing Native political actions did not result in a failure of Native political identities as one might expect, but rather forced adaptation and growth.
Native political activism, Saskatchewan, Native-newcomer relations
Master of Arts (M.A.)