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The politics of indian administration : a revisionist history of intrastate relations in mid-twentieth century British Columbia



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This dissertation examines Native-newcomer relations during the “integrationist” era in Canadian Indian affairs: the two and a half decades after World War Two during which the federal government introduced policies designed to integrate Indians into mainstream Canadian social, political, economic, and administrative life. Particular focus is given to developments in British Columbia, where some of the most concerted steps towards integration took place. Growing public and political demands for institutional desegregation and the granting of rights of citizenry to Aboriginal people recast Indian affairs into a matter of unprecedented intergovernmental importance. Shifting between micro- and macro-historical perspectives, the following chapters consist of a series of comparative policy case studies. Individually, they examine the development, implementation, and effects of the four main areas of federal Indian integrationist planning after WWII: health, education, economic development, and welfare. Collectively, chapters demonstrate how integration was a mission essentially administrative in orientation: every policy undertaken in this period, whether directly or indirectly, sought to implicate the province and other federal line departments in Indian affairs. Not all attempts at “administrative integration,” however, were successful. While BC and the federal government reached joint agreements in the fields of education and health, other areas such as Indian economic development and welfare proved to be a source of significant intergovernmental conflict and impasse. Aboriginal people were important participants when it came to integrated health, education, and social welfare. Incorporating ethnohistorical insights and Aboriginal perspectives throughout, this dissertation documents how Aboriginal agency in this period—expressed in a range of innovative actions and words—included important combinatory aspects of compliance, resistance, and accommodation. Many individuals, for instance, demanded access to provincial services as within their rights as Aboriginal people and provincial voting and taxpaying citizens. While post-war integrationist policies varied widely in terms of their local perception and impact, Indian assimilation remained an elusive goal throughout this period. Advances in provincial devolution of Indian administration rarely resulted in the type of social and economic integration envisioned by federal officials. This study looks beyond unitary conceptions of “the state” towards questions of power and local agency. It engages Foucauldian and Weberian theories to show how a combination of intergovernmental politics, intrastate variables, and Aboriginal agency refashioned Native-newcomer relations in this period. Post-WWII administrative contexts served as theatres for the contestation of old, and formulation of new, power relationships. Developments in this era were to have a significant influence on Native-newcomer relations moving into the modern era.



Canada, British Columbia, indigenous people, Aboriginal people, First Nations, Indian policy, integration, desegregation, intergovernmental relations, federal, health, bureaucracy, administration, World War Two, welfare, economic development, education, provincial, federal-provincial relations



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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