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'A Flag that Knows No Colour Line': Aboriginal Veteranship in Canada, 1914-1939

'A Flag that Knows No Colour Line': Aboriginal Veteranship in Canada, 1914-1939

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Title: 'A Flag that Knows No Colour Line': Aboriginal Veteranship in Canada, 1914-1939
Author: Macdowall, Brian Robert
Abstract: Historians have rightly considered the period from 1914 to 1939 as the time when Canadian Indigenous soldiers and veterans of the First World War faced unique challenges because of their legal status as Indians. But their acceptance of the idea that Indigenous veterans were victims of discrimination has led them to overlook the unique nature of these Indigenous peoples identities as Indians and veterans. The prevailing assumption is that Indigenous veterans were not an influential group politically, socially, or culturally and Indigenous veterans political awakening occurred only in the mid-1940s.

This study contends that Indigenous veterans relationship with the state in the interwar period was more complicated than previously thought. Their war service created a fundamentally different and important legal relationship with the state from other soldiers or Indigenous peoples. Military service suspended soldiers Indian status temporarily, and this experience created a new set of expectations for Indigenous men upon their return home. As veterans, they expected material benefit and recognition for their sacrifices, and support for killed or wounded soldiers and their families. These expectations did not fit with government officials understanding that Indigenous men returning from the war would re-integrate into their communities as Indians and wards of the state.

The dissertation offers an overview of Indigenous war service in the context of debates over status and citizenship, and then sketches how these debates informed developments in soldiers demobilization, re-establishment, re-integration, and restoration. Through the examination of Indigenous soldiers service records, pension and Soldier Settlement case files, and government records, this work argues that Indigenous soldiers and veterans experience from 1914 through 1939 should not be seen primarily as victims of the state, but rather as a group whose complicated identity of Indian and veteran, and as citizens, began to coalesce.
Subject: Canadian history
Keywords: Indigenous
Indigeneity
Aboriginal
Indian
First Nation
War
Military
Service
Citizenship
Soldiers
Soldiering
Mobilization
Demobilization
Conscription
Military Service Act
Veterans
Veteranship
Canada
Canadian
First World War
World War One
WW1
Soldier Settlement
Pension
Last Post Fund
War Veterans Allowance
GWVA
Legion
Department of Indian Affairs
DIA
Duncan Campbell Scott
Deskaheh
F.O. Loft
Six Nations
Enfranchisement
Disenfranchisement
Treaties
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/34281
Supervisor: Wicken, William Craig
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: History
Exam date: 2017-06-08
Publish on: 2018-03-01

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