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Manitoba History: “An Infamous Proposal:” Prairie Indian Reserve Land and Soldier Settlement after World War I

by Sarah Carter
History Department, University of Calgary

Number 37, Spring / Summer 1999

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

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The Soldier Settlement Board (SSB) acquired over 85,000 acres of Indian reserve land in Western Canada for non-Aboriginal soldier settlement in the years immediately after World War I, constituting a significant erosion of the lands remaining to Aboriginal people. The federal government, through the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA), initiated and vigorously pursued the process of reserve land diminishment for non-Aboriginal soldier settlement, clearly acting to the detriment of the communities whose interests and estates the government was supposed to protect and conserve. The encouragement of reserve land surrender was not a new departure in policy; since the late nineteenth century the federal government had facilitated the diminishment of reserve land, responding to vocal and often powerful non-Aboriginal interests who wished to acquire land for farming, grazing, or speculation. The fresh set of circumstances created by wartime conditions however, the “stern needs of the times,” provided a rationale for this process to be pursued with new vigour. Indian land was appropriated first for the purposes of greater production during the war, and immediately after, large tracts were permanently alienated for non-Aboriginal soldier settlement.

Recruits from File Hills, Saskatchewan, October 1915. Left to right: David Bird, Joe McKay, Leonard Creely, Jack Walker, and Harry Stonechild.
Source: Glenbow-Alberta Institute

In the post-war period there was much talk about the need to rejuvenate rural Canada. Some vocal interests promoted the idea that the ethnic diversity of the West was a source of danger and weakness, and that it was necessary to take steps to ensure that the West would become an Anglo Saxon country. There was concern about the potential danger of peoples identified as the “foreign element” who live in colonies, compact settlements or reserves. Influential people promoted the idea that such land could be put to much better use if settled by patriotic native sons-soldier settlers. These efforts to obtain Indian reserve land for non-Aboriginal soldiers was all the more odd as this was a time when a great deal of publicity was being given to the significant contribution Aboriginal people had made to the war effort, at home as well as overseas. There were others however, who were less concerned about the ethnic diversity of the West, and instead saw as the source of weakness the power wielded by corporate interests who operated to enhance profits and showed little concern for community formation. A particular target was the land that was held out of production by corporations such as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for the purposes of speculation. It was these idle lands within the transportation belt, including the very pick of the Western soil, that were seen as a great drawback to the economic health of the West, and had the most obvious potential first for the greater production campaign, and then for soldier settlement. The federal government’s response to this clamour however was to divert attention to the issue of supposedly vacant and idle Indian reserve lands, rather than taking steps that might offend or harm the investments of powerful commercial interests. There were many people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who objected to the program to acquire Indian reserve land for soldier settlement, arguing that this was a fundamental violation of the government’s commitment to act as trustee for the residents of Indian reserves, and in some cases this protest was effective in withstanding the pressures to surrender the land. Efforts to acquire Indian reserve land for non-Indian soldier settlement in Manitoba for example, did not meet with success.

Since the election of the Wilfrid Laurier Liberal government in 1896, a major preoccupation of Indian Affairs administrators was to encourage the diminishment of Indian reserves in Western Canada. The Liberals were fortunate to have won the election at the start of an age of prosperity for the West. The end of the drought cycle ushered in the wheat boom of the first decade of the twentieth century. The Canadian prairies became the site of the last great land rush in North American history and land values rose dramatically, as did interest in Indian reserve land, particularly when that land was fertile and close to railway facilities. There was strong lobbying efforts to have reserve land leased for non-Aboriginal cultivation or grazing, and to have the land sold. In the Indian Act there was provision for the “surrender” of Indian reserve land, which was not in the first place actually owned by the residents, but rather was held in trust for them by the Crown. Reserve land could only be alienated, sold or leased after it had been released or surrendered to the Crown. A majority of the male members of the band over the age of twenty-one had to give assent to any surrender at a meeting attended by an authorized official of the government.

Under the Laurier administration, Indian reserve residents across the West were pressured to surrender valuable tracts of land, and hundreds of thousands of acres were alienated. A number of the influential Liberal office holders were themselves Westerners who viewed Aboriginal people as obstacles to western development, and some even hoped to and did personally profit through speculation in former Indian lands. [1] Steps were taken to facilitate the surrender process through amendments to the Indian Act in 1906, and 1911, that permitted the government to hold out large cash inducements, and to remove Indians from any reserve next to sizeable town. Among the official rationales for reserve diminishment were that the reserves were far too large for the needs of the residents, and that reserves retarded the progress of rural districts as land was not used to capacity. [2] A conviction shared by successive generations of DIA officials, despite evidence to the contrary, was that Aboriginal people were poor farmers, and never would use the land to full potential. Land surrenders were nonetheless always promoted as a means of assisting reserve farmers as the funds that would be generated could be used to purchase equipment. The image of the poor farmer was a necessary corollary to the image of the potentially prosperous farmers that would emerge if their land was surrendered. Some of the reserve land surrenders of these years were conducted according to the provisions of the Indian Act, but others were not. Many of these today are before the Indian Claims Commission, and it has been found that some of the surrenders were obtained under questionable circumstances, and that the deals breached the Crown’s fiduciary (protective) duty to shield First Nations from exploitive or unwise transactions. The federal government should have taken steps to prevent, rather than encourage land surrenders that in many cases robbed the residents of their livelihood, leaving them to survive on land that was often not suited to agriculture.

Patriotic sale of wood from Crooked Lake Indian Reserve residents, Broadview, Saskatchewan, 15 December 1917.
Source: Saskatchewan Archives Board

Why did the government that was supposed to protect the interests of their “wards” promote the surrender of reserve land that was virtually the only source of livelihood available to the residents? The answer probably lies in the lobbying efforts of the often powerful individuals and institutions who felt they could profit if these lands were sold, or who felt that the prosperity of their farm, town, or business could be enhanced if reserves were removed from their midst. The Indian wards of the state did not have the same economic and political clout, as they were not permitted to vote, and thus their interests were more easily set aside. This has a parallel in more recent times as successive federal governments have proved reluctant to deal with and settle the many Indian land claims cases that have arisen as a result of the often shady dealings of the past. There was also the factor of personal ambition. William Morris Graham, an employee of the DIA for some forty years, was energetic and some would say unscrupulous in his pursuit of reserve land surrenders and he personally handled the negotiations of many of these, including those done in the name of soldier settlement. [3] Born in Ottawa in 1867, Graham came west to Winnipeg with his parents in 1872, where his father James was employed with the Indian Department. William Graham began his career with the DIA as a clerk in 1885. He then served for many years as an Indian agent, and in 1904 was appointed inspector of agencies for southern Saskatchewan. In 1920 Graham was appointed Indian Commissioner at Regina, the highest position in the prairie provinces. He was an ambitious man, who took initiatives and introduced innovations that often, although not always, won him great approval at central office in Ottawa. Graham was for example, the man who devised, implemented, carefully supervised, and tirelessly promoted the File Hills Colony on Peepeekesis reserve in southeastern Saskatchewan, which began in 1901. [4] This was a showpiece, model agricultural reserve community made up of the graduates of industrial schools. It left the impression with the press and many visitors that Indian reserves were prosperous agricultural communities. This was far from the case, and Graham himself worked to make this goal ever more elusive through his efforts to see that “surplus” land on Indian reserves was surrendered. He often expressed the idea, shared by other DIA officials, that reserve agriculture would never expand greatly, and for that reason Indians could well afford to surrender extensive tracts. His ambition knew some bounds however; there were times when he staunchly withstood the pressures upon him to facilitate the surrender of reserve land when he was convinced that a reserve was nearing capacity.

Graham of course was not alone responsible for these surrenders. There was widespread pressure and support from settlers, politicians and business interests. He was as vigorous in this pursuit however, as we was in promoting and supervising the File Hills Colony, and those who have studied Graham’s career in detail tend to agree that personal ambition was what motivated him above all. He wanted the top bureaucratic post of deputy superintendent general of Indian Affairs and went to great lengths to impress his superiors. Graham often found himself at odds however, with the person who occupied the post he coveted—Duncan Campbell Scott. Graham had political connections which he used to the fullest; his wife was a sister of Arthur Meighen’s step-father. Meighen was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Portage la Prairie, and a Minister of the Interior. In the World War Union government Meighen was superintendent general of Indian Affairs, and at this time Graham found his connection especially useful. Meighen was also Prime Minister briefly, (1920-21, 1926), but alas, this did not assist Graham to acquire the top posting he so desired.

Arthur Meighen, 1920. Meighen served as federal Minister of the Interior and was briefly Prime Minister (1920-21, 1926).
Source: Archives of Manitoba

Bolstering the argument that Indian reserves were far too large, and constituted “vacant” land was the fact that government policies since the late 1880s had served to inhibit agricultural expansion. A “peasant” farming policy had been implemented on many western reserves where farming just at the time when agriculture began to show some promise. [5] Reserve farmers were told to limit their land under cultivation to one or two acres, and to use the most rudimentary implements such as the hoe, sickle and cradle. They were to broadcast their seed by hand, just as in biblical times. This policy was clearly devised in response to complaints about “Indian competition” in the limited markets of the West. Non-Aboriginal people in Western Canada widely shared a cluster of beliefs about Indians on reserves, and one of the most powerful of these was the notion that government provided them with all they needed to farm, even rations, and that this gave Indian reserve farmers an unfair advantage. There was little understanding in the non-Aboriginal community about what was solemnly agreed to in the treaties, and there was little knowledge of the restrictions upon Aboriginal enterprise contained in the Indian Act, but there was this strong perception of unfair “coddling,” a misperception which persists among some non-Aboriginal Westerners to this day. The peasant farming policy was designed to diminish Indian reserve production to just subsistence level, leaving these farmers without a surplus to sell. This policy, unpopular with Indian reserve farmers, most of the Indian agents, farm instructors and inspectors of agencies, was hastily dropped shortly after the 1896 change in government, but it had the effect of discouraging an interest in agriculture, and there were reserves upon which formerly cultivated fields were idle. The peasant farming policy was introduced at the same time as a costly effort to subdivide portions of reserves into forty-acre lots. This was ostensibly intended to encourage a form of individual ownership, but it was also designed to make settlement on reserves more compact, in order to leave portions of reserves “vacant.” In 1886, John A. Macdonald himself expressed his enthusiasm for this plan which would define the surplus land on reserves, which might be sold. [6]

It is not surprising then, that in the early decades of the twentieth century, there was land on some Indian reserves that appeared to be “vacant,” and “unused,” although these expanding communities could ill-afford to give up valuable land and still sustain farming and cultivation. In Western Canada however, there was much greater public concern over other vacant, unused and unproductive lands, and these concerns were expressed with particular vigour during and just after World War 1. These were the vast acreages held from production for speculative purposes by the railways, the Hudson’s Bay and other companies, and individual land speculators. The Grain Growers’ Guide estimated that there were 30,000 acres of good farm land in the three prairie provinces in districts served by the railway that were “absolutely idle,” were inhibiting settlement and distorting its pattern. This land was a “national asset provided by the Creator for the use of mankind,” but “a comparatively few men and corporations have hogged it.” [7] If this land could be brought under cultivation it was hoped that many of the problems of the West could be solved, as immigration would be encouraged, traffic brought to the railways, and compact settlement created.

Concern about these vacant lands, and the conviction that profits were being made in the boardrooms of eastern Canada while the West suffered pre-dated World War I but in the context of national mobilization appeals to end this “parasitical speculation” had a wider public impact. Farmer and labour groups in Western Canada lobbied for the conscription of wealth and not manpower alone. The government was pressured to compel owners of this vacant land to work the land in the interests of greater production. It was advertisements published under the authority of the Minister of Finance after all that warned Canadians that “whoever competes with the nation by fully satisfying his own desires, selfishly appropriates to his own use that which is so urgently required by our fighting men in France.” [8] Citizens were asked to cut back on food, fuel, labour and transportation, as well as to cultivate “war gardens” in every vacant lot or corner. In the early months of 1918 prairie farmers were told starvation threatened overseas and the fate of the Allies could be decided by the quality of food produced in the prairie provinces. [9] Naturally attention turned to the large acreages held out of production whose owners were no longer just parasitical but unpatriotic as well. To bring this land under cultivation would save the Allies from starvation and help defeat the enemy. In the view of one Saskatchewan farmer the government should demand that all land speculators “be prepared to work their land in the spring or lose it.” [10]

The federal government responded however, not to bring these lands under cultivation but to focus greater production efforts on Indian reserve farmlands. As historian Brian Titley has documented, it was Graham, in January of 1918 who outlined to Meighen a plan to increase food production through the use of “idle” Indian reserve land, as well as through the use of the Indian bands “idle funds.” [11] Greater production on Indian reserves was to be enhanced through encouraging reserve farmers to increase their production, through the leasing of land to non-Aboriginal interests, and though the operation of “greater production farms.” Inspiration for the use of Indian reserve farmland for greater production may have come from the American example, launched in 1917, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs mobilized behind a plan to see that every tillable acre on Indian reservations be intensely cultivated. [12] A major result of the American food campaign however, which lasted only two years, was to dramatically increase the amount of Native American land that was leased to non-Natives. As in the United States, the government department responsible for Indian Affairs in Canada was one of the few agencies that had, under a single authority, the farmland and power to respond quickly to appeals for more food. This authority and power became even more concentrated and centralized during the last months of the war, diminishing even further the decision-making powers of reserve residents. Graham was ushered to Ottawa and appointed Commissioner for Greater Production for the prairie provinces, and he was granted extensive authority.

Amendments to the Indian Act passed in the spring of 1918 gave the DIA unprecedented powers as they allowed reserve land to be leased without the consent of the band and the use of band funds to purchase machinery, stock and labour to improve or cultivate land on the greater production farms set up on some reserves. The amendments were intended to expedite the campaign for greater production by removing “all obstacles to the utilization of these lands.” [13] According to Deputy Superintendent General Duncan Campbell Scott the purpose was to “deal with cases wherein the council of a band, through some delusion, misapprehension or hostility, acts in a manner contrary to the best interests of the band and refuses to sanction expenditures which the Governor-in-Council may consider necessary for the welfare and progress of the band.” [14] It was emphasized that while this served the national interest it was also of benefit to the reserve residents, as in the words of Arthur Meighen, power was removed from “what one may call reactionary or recalcitrant Indian bands to check their own progress by refusing consent to the utilization of their funds or vacant land for their own advantage.” [15]

The greater production scheme involved some modest effort to enhance the production of reserve farmers, and it included the establishment of government-run farms on some reserves, but the main agents of increased production were non-reserve residents, and the central objective was to facilitate the leasing of land to non-Indian interests. In the West the campaign differed markedly from that promoted on Ontario reserves where short courses on agriculture were offered, Indian fairs organized, greater production meetings held on reserves and an emphasis placed on reserve farmers production. [16] It was later claimed by one former agent in the West not only that assistance to reserve farmers was the most neglected aspect of greater production but that under the campaign Indian farming was “interfered with, retarded and discouraged.” [17]

There was widespread support in the House of Commons for the 1918 amendments which facilitated the leasing of Indian reserve land for grazing or cultivation. Arthur Meighen expressed the characteristically skeptical view of the abilities of Aboriginal peoples to farm their land themselves: “We would be only too glad to have the Indian use this land if he would; production by him would be just as valuable as production by anybody else. But he will not cultivate this land, and we want to cultivate it; that is all.” [18] Here was an opportunity to bring under cultivation land that was “hindering the development of the country,” said Member of Parliament T. M. Tweedie, who spoke in support of the measure. He contended that there were “hundreds of thousands of acres of the best agricultural lands in the Dominion in the Indian reserves in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, withheld from agricultural development.” Even if every Indian on every reserve worked night and day, according to Tweedie, it “would be impossible for him to cultivate more than a small fraction of these lands.” [19]

There were those in the House, however, who voiced doubts about the leasing of reserve land. There was concern that leasing would leave the land in poor condition, as it would be mined, not farmed, and left in a worthless condition. [20] But others argued that it was vacant land held by speculators that should be put to this patriotic purpose, and not land held by Aboriginal people. Frank S. Cahill was the Liberal M.P. for Pontiac, Quebec. He was a Roman Catholic of Irish ancestry. Cahill felt the amendments amounted to a confiscation of Indian land. If the government genuinely wished to stimulate production and deal with vacant land “there are thousands and millions of acres of vacant land throughout the West owned by large corporations, and why we should take from the Indian his rights, while he is living on the land in his own way, to make way for settlers or renters, and leave to the large corporations their lands which they are holding for profit, is a mystery to me. I think if we are going to do any confiscating of land for the benefit of the white man, you should take the white man’s land.” [21] Cahill’s views were echoed by Issac E. Pedlow (Renfrew South) who stated that “it is not reasonable that an inroad should be made on Indian reserves in the West until the other lands throughout the country have been taken up,” and suspected that the enactment was “designed for the purpose of benefitting farmers whose land adjoins Indian reserves.” [22] Another M.P. wondered what the government intended to do about their “other landed wards who own, control, and hold out of use large tracts of land in Western Canada - I mean the big interests. What is the government going to do about them?” [23] “We feel that they are quite capable of taking care of themselves,” replied Arthur Meighen. Indian reserve land was the focus of the campaign Meighen explained, because these were lands “over which we have a system and machinery of direct supervision.” [24] There was also little risk of offending politically powerful interests by focusing government greater production on reserve land rather than on the large tracts held vacant by speculators.

Within a remarkably short space of time, W. M. Graham leased many thousands of acres of reserve land in time for operations in the spring of 1918. This action was regretted to some extent less than a year later when the DIA wished to take advantage of the opportunities offered by collaboration with the Soldier Settlement Board. An Act of 1917 created this board, which administered the government’s scheme for settling returned soldiers on the land. [25] It provided that a discharged non-Indian soldier could acquire a quarter-section of Dominion lands in addition to his homestead right. Loans of $2500 were authorized for the purchase of livestock and equipment and for the construction of improvements.

The issue of soldier settlement focused attention further on the fertile acres in the hands of individual and corporate speculators, as the Dominion lands available to returned soldiers were not in desirable locations. These lands were in forested areas, the Interlake region of Manitoba, the Peace River country or the arid Palliser’s Triangle. They were remote from railways, or they required clearing, or were of doubtful fertility. For these very reasons no others had entered for homestead on these lands, or had failed to “make good” on them. In the Western press there was agreement on the idea that returned soldiers should not be expected to settle these remaining Dominion lands where there were no schools, towns, railways or other facilities. The government was called upon to take over the unoccupied land held by speculators, to “conscript” it at a price about half its value. [26] “These young men were conscripted and forced to accept less than half their earning capacity in civil life,” declared the Grain Growers’ Guide, “why should the government not take over the idle land at one-half its value.” [27] A cartoon in that periodical dramatically depicted a returned soldier being denied access to 30,000,000 acres of fertile and idle land by the hand of a speculator, his alternative being 160 acres of free land 100 miles from “civilization”.

Pressure mounted for the settlement of the vacant lands question through the establishment of returned soldiers. In the April 30, 1918 issue of the Regina Morning Leader J. B. Walker, Commissioner of Immigration at Winnipeg was quoted a saying that as the only homestead land was far removed from railways, the acres held by speculators should be used for returned soldiers. This policy was endorsed by the Great War Veterans Association (GWVA) which asked the federal government to consider state expropriation by fixed schedule of land held idle under corporation and private ownership. [28] Landowners and financial companies increasingly became the targets of veterans’ associations, particularly when profits were made on land sold to those regarded as “enemy aliens” such as Hutterites. There were hopes that the settlement of soldiers would result in an increase in “the British element in our population,” and there was suspicion of “complicity of men high in public life in Canada,” who continued to allow speculators to reap profits through sales to “foreigners” when the land should be available to returned soldiers. [29]

There was no similar public clamour on the same scale to put “vacant” Indian land to use for soldier settlement in 1918, although one Member of Parliament had raised this possibility in 1917 when the SSB was created. W. A. Buchanan, from Lethbridge where non-Aboriginal interests had long cast envious eyes on the nearby Blood reserve, argued that Indian reserves were in nearly every case “far too large for the number of Indians now occupying them,” and were ideal for soldier settlement. [30] His suggestion was not acted upon at that time. By late in 1918 however, when Armistice was declared, the situation was becoming critical as soldiers began to return in large numbers. Politicians and businessmen were concerned that if the economic needs of veterans were not satisfied they might be “radicalized, and lured into socialist organizations.” [31] As headlines were increasingly of “Returned men, Walk Street, No Food or Work” and with warnings of impending troubles unless sincere remedies were applied, a swift response to the need to accommodate the returned soldier, to find some land on which those wishing to farm might settle, became crucial. [32]

Arthur Meighen believed that the country could be fortified against unrest and discontent if the agricultural economy, the backbone and fibre of the nation, was strengthened. As Desmond Morton and Glenn Wright have written, Meighen had a vision that “soldier settlement could make him a latter-day Clifford Sifton, peopling the west not with foreigners but with patriotic native sons and selected fellow-Britons.” [33] He saw Indian reserve land as ideal for the realization of his vision, likely based upon the advice he received from W. M. Graham. He also regarded Charles W. Peterson, founder and editor of Calgary’s Farm and Ranch Review as the best informed man and soundest thinker on Western conditions. Peterson wrote in his 1919 book Wake Up, Canada!: Reflections on Vital Issues, that the time had arrived for the whole troublesome question of Indian reserves to be finally dealt with, autocratically, if necessary. [34] Peterson wanted returned soldiers settled on Indian reserve land which he believed to be unquestionably the very best “vacant” land in the West. This was a national necessity, in Peterson’s view, and he felt that the “obstinacy” of the residents should not be allowed to stand in the way.

Illustration from The Grain Growers’ Guide, 6 March 1918.

The erosion of the rights and land base of Indian reserve residents during and after WWI is all the more curious because of the great patriotism through contributions that Aboriginal people had displayed at home, their high rate of enlistment, and the distinguished war record acquired by many who went overseas, all of which received wide attention and approbation. It was proclaimed in a 1919 issue of the Farmer’s Sun, that “Possibly no race of British people contributed so much towards the winning of the war as did the Canadian Indians, and it is doubtful if any other race among the allied armies contributed as many troops per capita as they did.” [35] The image of the loyal, gallant and self sacrificing Indian was used to boost morale and encourage generous donations. [36] That the Aboriginal people of Canada enthusiastically and voluntarily came to the aid of the mother country appeared to justify the mission of the British Empire to spread the light of civilization to the “dark” people of the world. It was noted in a 1916 article entitled “How Dark Men Help the Empire” that like the mutinous Sepoys of India, prairie Indians had once rebelled (although they had not), but now “stood shoulder to shoulder with Jack Canuck and his next of kin, the Mounted Police, in the defense of the Empire and the maintenance of law and order.” [37] This zealous and faithful service to the flag was used by the DIA as evidence that their policies were wise and benevolent. As Meighen stated in his annual report of the DIA for 1917, the Indians’ “staunch devotion forms an eloquent tribute to the beneficent character of British rule over a native people.” [38] Canada’s Aboriginal people expected that all of this would help them to gain greater control over their own affairs, as well as economic assistance and improvements in education and health. They had helped defeat an autocratic, repressive regime abroad, and now felt that they had earned the “right to claim and demand more justice and fair play as recompense, for we too have fought for the sacred rights of justice, freedom and liberty so dear to mankind, no matter what colour or creed.” [39] During the war and post-war years however, their rights and resources were only further eroded.

In December of 1918 it was announced that in the next session of Parliament legislation would be introduced which would authorize the Soldier Settlement Board to acquire Indian reserve lands, school lands, and land in forest reserves. [40] The GWVA was informed that these lands were to be made available as it was not considered right to ask veterans to “enter the pioneering stage,” and have to reclaim land distant from railways.

The new Soldier Settlement Act of 1919 which authorized the Board to acquire uncultivated Indian reserves also contained clauses which were to assist veterans to purchase privately owned land. Once the word was out however, that Indian reserves were available for soldier settlement, public attention was successfully diverted. One of the resolutions passed at the annual convention of the GWVA in July 1919 was that “all arable lands not utilized by the Indians be acquired, on fair terms, by purchase or otherwise,” with no similar interest expressed in the vacant land held idle by speculation. [41] That same month it was announced that negotiations had been completed whereby the SSB had secured good agricultural land on Indian reserves in the prairie provinces. [42] How had this been achieved so quickly?

Duncan Campbell Scott raised the question of using Indian reserves for the purpose of soldier settlement with Arthur Meighen as early as August 1918, but was not at this point optimistic that any such arrangement could be made. [43] Scott explained that after reserve land was surrendered it had to be sold to the best possible advantage of the Indians, and that the necessity of obtaining full value for the land made it difficult to deal with such properties under the Soldier Settlement Act. Early in February 1919 however, a meeting in Ottawa was held between Scott, W. M. Graham and a representative of the SSB for discussing plans whereby portions, or the whole of Indian Reserves might be made available for soldier settlement. [44] It was decided then that the already surrendered but unsold portions of reserves would at once be made available for purchase by the Board and withdrawn from sale to the public. It was also decided that lands “which are not yet surrendered but which are not being made use of, or at any time likely to be utilized by the Indians, should be considered as early as possible.” W. M. Graham and the provincial representative of the SSB were to examine these lands and place a valuation on them. Graham was then to endeavor to secure a surrender from the Indians for this land. [45] Meighen explained in the House in June, 1919 that the government had decided not to expropriate these lands, but employ the more conciliatory method of procuring surrenders. He stated however, that if the Indians became recalcitrant or obstinate “as against their own interests and the interests of the State, we might consider at a later session the advisability of taking expropriatory power.” [46]

This scheme offered the DIA an opportunity to sell Indian reserve land surrendered ten years or more earlier. The anticipated rush of buyers for this land had in many cases not materialized, and some parcels had never sold. The ownership of others parcels of land had reverted to the DIA when purchasers did not complete payments. The administration of these lands had become a heavy burden for Indian agents. The usual terms were for the DIA to demand one-tenth of the price of the land in cash at the time of sale. Local Indian agents then had to see that subsequent payments were made, filling out detailed annual collection reports, describing crops and yields. Many tenants failed in their payments because of successive poor crops and the land was repossessed by the DIA. Cooperation with the SSBalso gave the DIA justification to rigorously pursue the goal of reserve land surrenders with funds provided by the SSB.

A problem that immediately emerged was that collaboration with the SSB conflicted with aspects of the greater production campaign, inaugurated only a year earlier. Land on reserves which has so recently been leased was now to be evaluated for potential, non-Aboriginal soldier settlement. These leases had to be cancelled before a surrender could be negotiated. Fortunately most, although not all, leases were for one year only, and were subject to cancellation upon six weeks notice from the DIA. In some cases however these leases proved an encumbrance to surrender for soldier settlement. A large tract of land on the Muscowequan reserve in Saskatchewan was leased for five years from 1918 with no clause as to termination and as a result could not be “thrown open” for soldier settlement. [47]

The policy of leasing reserve land, so recently defended by the government and department officials as of positive benefit to the reserve residents, now had to be discredited. Graham wrote to Meighen in April 1919 that the policy of leasing Indian land was “necessary when it was undertaken owing to war conditions, but it has now served its purpose, and its continuation would not be in the interest of either of the Indians or the public. These leases ... constitute an obstacle to the consummation of the chief end that we had in view in our administration which is the rapid civilization of the Indians.” Leases, Graham now believed, were a “serious hindrance” to the objective of breaking up the reserves, “as the Indians will be inclined to retain their lands if they are devising a revenue from them.” [48] Scott explained that leases of reserve land were not in the interest of the Indians or in the public interest, as farming operations were for “immediate gain and not for permanent occupation, and the lease holders might at any time leave the properties in such a condition that they would be a menace to the surrounding country.” [49]

In the early months of 1919 an atmosphere of feverish haste surrounded the actions and movements of W. M. Graham who insisted that land evaluation, surrenders and surveying be completed at once so that the non-Aboriginal soldier settlers could break land that same year. The DIA files do not fully reveal his means and methods. In an article on the surrender of land on the Bobtail Reserve in Alberta, David Lupul suggested that the threat of expropriation was used. [50] Such threats were without doubt used a year earlier when Indians “unable or unwilling to cultivate” who were also “unwilling to surrender for such a purpose” were informed that the department could “appropriate and cause to be utilized for productive purposes” any portions of any reserve. [51] Meighen had stated in the House that expropriation would be considered if surrenders were not obtained.

The resources of the SSB allowed Graham to offer unprecedented amounts of money as an initial payment. An example was the incentive offered to the Ochapowace band of southeastern Saskatchewan. This band had firmly opposed Graham’s earlier overtures, even when in 1907 they were enticed with three times as much as neighboring bands as an initial payment. [52] In 1919 Ochapowace residents were offered $110.00 each at the time of signing. The surrender agreement provided for the creation of an account from which rations, clothing and houses could be purchased for the elderly, sick and destitute, as well as farm outfits for those who wished to start farming. [53] One of Graham’s tactics was to have the money available before opening negotiations. In the case of the Ochapowace Reserve $25,000.00 was required. [54] In June 1919 a surrender of 18,223 acres was secured which was immediately sold to the Soldier Settlement Board. It was evaluated on the basis of $9.00 an acre and sold for $164,160.00. [55] Similar cash incentives were held out to the residents of the Piapot Reserve in Saskatchewan who were offered $100.00 each at the time of signing. In July 1919 Graham wired Scott that he had succeeded in securing the surrender of 24 sections of land on the south end of the Piapot Reserve, evaluated at twelve dollars an acre. [56]

In some cases surrenders acquired in earlier years proved an obstruction to the goals of the DIA in 1919. In 1917 the residents of the Mistawasis Reserve in Saskatchewan surrendered 5,000 acres and those of Big River 980 acres but the conditions of the surrenders had never been carried out, that is payment to the bands had not been made by 1919 when Graham decided that an additional 11,500 acres were suitable for soldier settlement. Not surprisingly Graham encountered considerable opposition when he attempted to open up negotiations for a new surrender. The people had no information about the precise conditions of the old surrender for which they had as yet received nothing. [57] At a meeting on the Mistawasis Reserve Graham promised that the conditions of the earlier surrender would be honoured but he quickly changed his mind when Scott informed him that one of the terms of the surrender was that 50% of the purchase price was to be distributed when the sale was made, if the land was sold en bloc to the SSB the amount distributed would be very large indeed. [58] Graham hastily concluded that it would be “unwise” to attempt to carry out the conditions and notified Scott that he would try to get them to agree to the sum of $50.00 per person. [59] At his next meeting with the people of Mistawasis and Big River he presented them with some information as to the conditions of the earlier surrender, later reporting that they were “indignant” with regard to this agreement and “unanimously requested that a new surrender be taken and the former surrender be cancelled.” [60] Graham took a new surrender which embodied the conditions he had outlined earlier to Scott. it seems unlikely that he fully explained to the residents that they were out quite a bit of cash as an initial payment. On the Mistawasis reserve 16,548 acres were sold to the SSB, and on the Big River reserve, 980 acres.

Aboriginal farmer in Manitoba, circa 1900.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

Formal surrenders were not always required for reserve land that ended up in the hands of the SSB. The Wood Mountain reserve in southwestern Saskatchewan, set aside in 1911 for the Lakota who for many years camped near Moose Jaw, was regarded by some DIA authorities as a “temporary reserve.” [61] Graham described these people in 1919 as “American Indians” with “no real claim on this country,” despite the fact that by this time most band members had been born in Canada, and the elderly members had resided in the country for over forty year, longer than many non-Aboriginal settlers. [62] As their reserve was not set aside under treaty, Graham argued that it need not be treated in the same manner as other reserves. In 1911 Graham reported that as the terrain was hilly, the residents should have at least 150 acres per person, and the land was set aside on this basis. “Indians would starve on 20 acres of land such as it is at Wood Mountain,” he wrote. “In my opinion it is unwise to restrict them to any small amount of land.” [63] In order to make the reserve a permanent one, the residents were to show that they had “occupied and made good use” of the land. Although no time frame was specified for this accomplishment, Graham concluded only eight years later that sufficient time had elapsed, and that “these Indians have not made use of the land to any extent and I doubt if they every will.” [64] He believed that one-half of the land set aside for them was ample. In April 1919 Graham and a representative of the Board examined these nine sections, describing it as mixed farm land although they found “odd pieces of inferior land” and it was at least thirty miles from the nearest railway. They recommended that it be sold at $6.00 per acre for the sum of $34,560.00.

Graham and the Department of Indian Affairs proved so zealous that they acquired surrenders for reserve land that the SSB was not interested in. Graham and a member of the SSB were to make a joint evaluation of the land before the residents were approached about a surrender but this procedure was not always strictly followed. In September 1919 Scott informed the Board that 2,558 acres on the Buck Lake Reserve in Alberta had been surrendered, but when the land was inspected by the Board a month later it was found to be quite unsuitable for the purpose of soldier settlement. [65] It was certainly the case that soldier settlers were not always found for land surrendered and sold to the Board. No returned soldiers were ever found for the nearly 1000 acres that Graham so doggedly pursued on the Big River Reserve and efforts to sell to the general public also proved unavailing. [66] In 1939 the director of Soldier Settlement informed the department that “the entire tract is still on our hand’s in the same undeveloped state as when purchased.” [67] This land was purchased by DIA for a nominal fee, and it reverted back to the people of Big River.

A good deal more Indian reserve land would have been made available for soldier settlement if Graham had his wish. In the summer of 1919 he endeavored to obtain the surrender of the entire Swan Lake reserve in Manitoba for sale to the Board. The plan was to have the Swan Lake people amalgamate with and settle on the Long Plain reserve, a goal he had in mind for some years. [68] Graham intended to go ahead with this plan even though the Swan Lake Reserve had not been inspected by a member of the Board, and he had no idea whether or not the SSB was interested in the land. He required the sum of $25,000.00 however, in order that he might be prepared when he took up the question of surrender with the band. Going over Scott’s head Graham telegramed Meighen, wondering why it was necessary for him to make two trips, when inspection and surrender could be completed at the same time. Although Graham was successful in acquiring this advance of money he was asked to return it in the spring of 1920 when no progress had been made. An exasperated Graham, exhausted from crisscrossing the prairie in pursuit of land surrenders made one of his numerous complaints to Scott about his working conditions. He was handicapped with inadequate staff and his requests for more assistance were treated with indifference. Not only this surrender but six others were being held up, he informed Scott. “I have been sitting in my office here from early morning until late at night, doing work which I should not be called upon to do, and as a result these important matters on the reserves have to remain unattended to.” [69] By the following November Graham reluctantly reported that the entire plan had fallen through as both bands declined to consider the question of amalgamation. Despite similar persistence land for soldier settlement was never acquired on the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta, nor was there any success in the Battleford agency, where Graham initially felt there was the most potential.

Although Graham initiated and facilitated many of these surrenders, he saw himself as the person responsible for keeping the land-hungry at bay. He wrote to Scott in July 1919, in the midst of his frenetic campaign, that “A large number of returned soldiers are under the wrong impression with regard to Indian land. They are of the opinion that these lands are Government property and can be thrown open for free entry, without consulting or dealing with the Indians. I find this wherever I go.” [70] Once it was announced in the press that reserve land was to be purchased for soldier settlement both the DIA and the SSB were deluged with inquiries. These came from individual returned soldiers, from local “reconstruction committees,” from officials high in public office in support of applications for land, and from representatives of the GWVA. Municipalities forwarded petitions. An example was that of the people of Ericksdale and Siglunes in Manitoba who asked that the Dog Creek Reserve be opened up as they believed only twenty people lived there and reserve roads, which they were obliged to use, were not in good repair. [71] Additional reasons were that the Indians leased their land and therefore were not in need of it themselves, and that they had made “negligible improvements.” It was felt that it would involve no hardship to move the people to a place where “they would not interfere with the travel and occupation of the adjoining owners,” opening up the land for soldier settlement.

According to many of those who contacted the department, Indian reserve land offered the only hope for a farm close to markets and railways. As one soldier wrote in December 1919 “I have been trying to locate ever since my discharge but good land is held for about $50.00 per acre, and the available homesteads are about forty miles from the railroad.” [72] Some were bitterly disappointed to learn that the reserve land they had looked over and applied to purchase was not available for settlement. As Graham noted the public impression was that it was “open season on Indian reserves.” A representative of the GWVA blamed the government for this perception. C.G. MacNeil wrote in August 1919 that “returned men have been put to considerable expense and waste of time owing to the fact that it has been represented by your officials that this land was open to settlement, whereas the men are finding that such is not a fact.” [73]

DIA officials were astonished at the degree of interest in reserve lands, even in districts regarded as “remote.” In June 1919 an association in the Peace River district of north-central Alberta lobbied to have reserves there made available for soldier settlement. The secretary of the Peace River Unionist Association had no direct knowledge of how many people occupied these reserves but was certain that their numbers had been greatly reduced through the recent influenza epidemic and likely had land in excess of their needs. [74] Local non-Aboriginal people believed that the settlement of the district was being discouraged by the large tracts of reserve land. Scott initially found it “extraordinary” that in a place so sparsely settled there should be such pressure on reserve land and did not favour approaching the residents about surrenders. [75] Graham similarly found it “strange” that such requests would be made when in that district there were large tracts of Dominion land still available. By September of 1919 however Graham informed the Board that he would be willing to open up negotiations for reserve land in the Peace River district, but the reply was that the land was not regarded as suitable for soldier settlement.

Pressure was withstood for the surrender of some reserves. Graham believed it was not wise to approach the people of Keeseekowenin (Riding Mountain Reserve) in Manitoba as their reserve was “of too cramped a nature to afford farming facilities for the Indians of that Band.” [76] His reaction to pressure to have land on the Birdtail Reserve in Manitoba surrendered was the same as the people there had “scarcely enough land for their own use.” [77]

Reserve residents in some cases loudly protested the use of their land for soldier settlement. It was alarming to find that their land was being evaluated for this purpose without their knowledge or permission, or to learn that local interests were circulating petitions. Upon learning in May 1919 that a petition was being circulated asking that their reserve or part of it be used for soldier settlement the Peguis Reserve Council of the Interlake region of Manitoba unanimously passed a resolution protesting the alienation of any part of their reserve as there was plenty of “idle” land elsewhere. [78] The resolution read in part that “the Indians have been loyal and helpful to the Government by their help in men and money to fight for the rights of others, and therefore the Council does not believe that any returned soldier wish {sic} to be given any lands belonging to the Indians of whom many have fought side by side with the returned soldiers for the maintenance of agreements and promises. Neither does the Council believe the Dominion Government of Canada can possibly have any idea of such a step, particularly when the St. Peter’s surrender is not yet settled.” The Peguis people had reason to be particularly bitter about such pressure as they had only acquired their new reserve in the Interlake in 1911, having been induced to surrender the St. Peter’s reserve on the Red River which they had occupied for over eighty years.

Elders and young soldiers from the File Hills Colony in Saskatchewan, no date.
Source: Glenbow-Alberta Institute

In 1920 the Muscowpetung Reserve Council of Saskatchewan passed a resolution protesting rumours that the DIA planned to subdivide and sell their reserve. They wished it to be understood that they “strongly disapprove of subdividing and selling our reserve, and that we would use all legal means to oppose such plan if really in existence. [79] At Hobbema Alberta in 1920 a meeting was held to protest government profiteering in the sale of portions of the Bobtail reserve surrendered for sale to the SSB. The Bobtail residents claimed they were paid on the basis of $10.00 per acre but that the government resold the land at an average of $14.00 per acre. [80] In an article in the Alberta Veteran it was reported that the Indians were disgusted with the government and the SSB. [81]

Grievances over land were compounded by resentment over the treatment of Indian veterans. These veterans were eligible for neither the quarter-section of Dominion lands or the acreage procurable under ordinary homestead rights. After some deliberation DIA officials thought it “advisable” to provide them with land on their own reserves. [82] An amendment to the Indian Act in 1919 provided that this land could be made available without the consent of the band council. Arthur Meighen felt that the “best and surest way to assist them is to establish them on reserves, advancing them the necessary working plant and giving them wise and dose supervision.” [83] The loans available to some for machinery, stock and improvements were not as large as those extended to other veterans. Scott concluded that “the needs of an Indian farmer would not perhaps be as extensive as the needs of a white farmer,” and he urged that the loans be kept as “low as possible in order not to burden the settler with too large a repayment.” [84] Very few of these loans were actually granted. In 1920 only 160 Indian veterans had received loans and by 1927 only 224 out of the estimated 4,000 who enlisted. Scott reported with pride in his annual report for 1920 that these loans had been carried out “without expense to the country,” as the source was the funds of the bands themselves. [85] In the case of at least one band that surrendered land in 1919 for non-Aboriginal soldier settlement, funds acquired from the sale of this land were used to provide for their own veterans. [86]

To avoid “confusion,” Scott explained in his annual report for 1919, the administration of returned Indian soldiers was left in the hands of the DIA. The Indian agents had “personal knowledge of their capabilities and needs,” and could supply them with necessary information and assistance. [87] Scott claimed that this arrangement was “considered more satisfactory by the Indians themselves, who prefer to have all matters which relate to them personally in any way dealt with by their own department.” Although Indian veterans were not treated with the same generosity as other veterans, their alleged “good fortune” nonetheless aroused jealousy. In the May 28 issue of the Edmonton Journal it was noted that the Indian returned soldiers were given land “within the bound of the community instead of going out to the wilds of the northern hinterlands. The chances are that a piece of 160 or 320 acres up in Peace River country would not appeal to these warriors.”

In British Columbia Aboriginal people were well-organized and vocal in their protests against rumours that Indian reserves were to be expropriated for soldier settlement. Here there were elaborate plans for Indian reserve land, including a colony for disabled soldiers on the reserve near Kamloops. The citizens of Kamloops called upon the Indians to once again display their loyalty and donate the land for this patriotic purpose. [88] Pressure on government was intensified when it was learned that “so many reserves are being thrown open in the Prairie Provinces.” [89] Representatives of the Vancouver Island Indians protested that to turn over their reserves to non-Indian returned soldiers “would be unfair to those of our race who are sleeping in France and Flanders. This is what the Kaiser would have done to us all, whites and Indians, if he had won the war.” [90]

There were non-Aboriginal people who found the campaign to acquire Indian reserve land for soldier settlement an “infamous proposal.” Frank Cahill protested in the House in 1919 that the federal government was not justified in deciding what was in the best interests of Indians. [91] In response to the remarks of F. P. Stacey (Fraser Valley) Cahill thundered that “There is plenty of land in Canada for the white man for many centuries to come without taking away from the Indian forcibly land he holds more dear perhaps than my hon. friend holds the dollars he would get out of it.” A Saskatchewan farmer who read the Winnipeg Free Press was “shocked” to learn in March 1919 that the GWVA was now advocating the “confiscation” of Indian reserves for returned soldiers. [92] A Colonel M. A. Mullins had recently spoken favourably of the subject to a meeting of the GWVA on this theme. This reader thought that soldiers who had fought valiantly for the rights of Belgians overseas did not “desire on their return to wrest from the poor Indians their small heritage left them by solemn treaty.” He accused Mullins of being a speculator, who would be interested in seeing reserves opened up for soldier settlement. “There is lots of land for the brave boys lying idle, held by speculators like Col. Mullins, that should be thrown open at fair valuation without depriving the Indians of their homes, who in large numbers went to the front and perhaps, did as much real trench work as Col. Mullins. It is a disgrace to Canada for such an infamous proposal to be made to the defenders of Belgium’s honour.”

An editorial in the Free Press of 5 May 1919 agreed to some extent with the farmer from Saskatchewan. It was noted that in Canada’s enthusiastic desire to accommodate the returned soldiers “few would wish to see the Indian reservations broken up into farms for even our soldier lads, excepting as the result of friendly negotiations.” Readers were told that Canadian Indians has always been treated better than American and that “we have reaped our reward,” as the young men from the reserves “have fought, and fought well to keep the flag flying and there is no Canadian of the white variety who has seen a scalp lock dangling from the belt of his red brother.” J. A. Newnham, the Bishop of Saskatchewan, also protested the policy. The Lakota of the Standing Buffalo Reserve came to him in some distress in 1920 reporting that Graham planned to transfer them to another reserve and hand theirs over to the SSB. Newnham informed Scott that these people were steady and industrious and had been in the district for fifty years. The DIA was supposed to be encouraging the Indians to farm Newnham thought, but “surely to seize all the best of the farming land in one reserve after another is not the way to encourage them to be farmers? But this seems to be Mr. Graham’s method lately.” [93]

Surrenders of lands sold to the Soldiers Settlement Board in Saskatchewan
Source: Saskatchewan Indian, June 1988, 8.


Acres surrendered

Price paid per acre

Poormans #88



Piapot (1) #75



Piapot (11) #75



Big River #118A



Cowessess #73 & Kahkewistahaw #72



Ochapowace #7



Mistakwasis #103



It appears that the soldier settlement scheme which greatly affected Indian reserve land had little impact on the larger issue of the vacant lands of the West. Despite the amendments to the Act of 1919 intended to assist in the purchase of these lands the average ex-serviceman still found them beyond his means. [94] Vacant lands remained an issue. In the Grain Growers’ Guide of June 16, 1920 it was estimated that there were 125,000,000 acres unoccupied in the hands of speculators. The Guide called for a stiff tax to be placed on these lands so the owners would be encouraged to sell, a policy that was also a plank in the 1921 “Farmers’ Platform” of the Progressive Party. [95] The government was careful to protect the income and property of corporate interests but did not show the same respect toward Aboriginal ownership, even of land granted through solemn treaty.

During and after World War II pressure was renewed to release Indian reserve land for non-Aboriginal Indian soldier settlement. A “reconnaissance inspection” was made of the Blood Reserve in Alberta in 1943 and it was recommended that the band could well afford to sell 22,000 acres leaving “ample room” for future expansion. [96] That same year the St. Paul Alberta branch of the Canadian Legion asked that parts of the Saddle Lake Reserve be “released to rehabilitate the Active Service men when they are discharged.” The organization pointed out that the reserve contained the best farming land in the district, that only about 500 Indians were “scattered here and there” on the land, who did “not make any effort to use the land to its best advantage.” [97]

In British Columbia pressure was renewed with vigour. One columnist argued that in Penticton the finest bench land in the valley was occupied by a dozen or so Indians. [98] “An area that could support a thousand returned soldiers growing crops close to a good market, is today devoted to the range of a few ponies. The soldiers are sent far into the northern wilderness to clear land under almost impossible conditions, while the cleared areas, practically ready for irrigation and crops, go to waste.” The problem could be “solved with no hardship to the Indians’ in fact they would be better off under other conditions, far removed from civic centres.”

Fortunately the DIA was no longer eager to collaborate in schemes for the establishment of returned soldiers. One official stated that consent to the surrender of Indian reserve land had been given “rather unwisely” in the past “when as a matter of fact, having in mind future development and requirements, such lands should have been retained for Indian use.” [99] T. A. Crerar, Minister of Mines and Resources, replied to the St. Paul Legion that “we cannot look with favour on any further surrenders of Indian land for any purpose.” [100] “Under the terms of the Treaty,” he wrote, “possession of this land was promised to them and to their descendants forever and cannot and must not be alienated from them without their full and voluntary consent.” The Saddle Lake residents, Crerar noted, had less than sixty acres per capita, after consenting to release for white settlement nearly 9,000 acres after the last war. “It is quite possible that in this instance the Indians were serous to their own detriment,” Crerar continued. “The problem of providing means of livelihood and occupation will carry us far into the future and the provision for them, wisely made in the Treaty of 1876 may not now be denied them.”

 It is regrettable that DIA officials, and those in government, were not as farsighted after World War I in foreseeing problems of livelihood and occupation for Indian reserve residents in an era when land, agriculture and stock-raising were the foundations of the prairie economy. It is all the more disturbing that the federal government, assigned to protect and conserve the interests and estates of those defined as “Indian,” eagerly offered up this land, helping to create the impression that it was “open season” on Indian reserve land and successfully diverting attention away from the vacant land held out of production by powerful corporations.


1. See Tyler and Wright Research Consultants Ltd., “The Alienation of Indian Reserve Lands. During the Administration of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1896-1911: The St. Peter’s Reserve.” Unpublished report prepared for the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, 1979. There is as yet no published study that details the extent and effect of the Western reserve land surrenders of this era. The most comprehensive coverage given to the role of unscrupulous government officials is found in Pierre Berton, The Promised Land: Settling the West, 1896-1914, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1984).

2. See Sarah Carter, Lost Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1990), 244-9.

3. E. Brian Titley, A Narrow Vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affairs in Canada, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986), chpt. 10, “The Ambitions of Commissioner Graham,” 184-99; idem, “W. M. Graham: Indian Agent Extraordinaire,” Prairie Forum 8, no. 1 (1983): 25-41, and Steward Raby, “Indian land Surrenders in Southern Saskatchewan,” The Canadian Geographer 17, no. 1 (1973): 36-52. See also W. M. Graham, Treaty Days: Reflections of an Indian Commissioner, introd. James Dempsey, (Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1991).

4. See Sarah Carter, “Demonstrating Success: The File Hills Farm Colony,” Prairie Forum 16, no. 2 (1991): 157-183.

5. See Carter, Lost Harvests, 193-236.

6. Ibid., 201.

7. Grain Growers’ Guide, 6 March 1918, 5 (461).

8. Ibid., 26 September 1918, 1990.

9. Ibid., 6 March 1918, 5 (461).

10. Ibid., 6 March 1918, 41, (497).

11. Titley, Narrow Vision, 40.

12. David L. Wood, “American Indian Farmland and the Great War,” Agricultural History 55, no. 3 (July, 1981): 249-265.

13. Canada. House of Commons. (CHC) Sessional Papers, no. 27 for the year ending 31 March 1918, 20.

14. Ibid.

15. National Archives of Canada, (NA), Records relating to Indian Affairs, Record Group 10 (RG10), vol. 11205, file 1, transcripts of debates in Hansard, 1918, 3.

16. CHC Sessional Papers, no. 27, for the year ending 31 March 1918, 1011.

17. R. N. Wilson, “Our Betrayed Wards,” Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology 4, no. 1, (1974), 55.

18. NA, RG 10, vol. 11205, file 1, transcripts of debates in Hansard, 1918, 5.

19. Ibid., 7-8, (T.M. Tweedie).

20. Ibid., 6, (T. Molloy).

21. Ibid., 7, (F.S. Cahill).

22. Ibid., 11, (I.E. Pedlow).

23. Ibid., 11, Q. Read).

24. Ibid., 9, (A. Meighen).

25. See E. C. Morgan, “Soldier Settlement in the Prairie Provinces,” Saskatchewan History 11, no. 2 (1968): 41-55. See also Desmond Morton and Glenn Wright, Winning the Second Battle: Canadian Veterans and the Return to Civilian Life, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987).

26. Grain Growers’ Guide, 6 March 1918, 5 (461).

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid., 13 November 1918, 33 (2381).

29. 1917 Commons Debates: 2: 1158 (W. J. Roche), Free Press (Winnipeg), 11 April 1919.

30. 1917, Commons Debates 2: 1163 (WA. Buchanan).

31. Donald Avery, “Dangerous Foreigner’s: European Immigrant Workers and Labour Radicalism in Canada, 1896-1932 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979), 77.

32. Free Press, 2 May 1919.

33. Morton and Wright, 143.

34. C. W. Peterson, Wake Up, Canada!: Reflections on Vital National Issues, introd. and ed., David C. Jones, (1919; rpt. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press) 183.

35. “The Indian as Citizen,” Farmers’ Sun, (Toronto), 23 April 1919.

36. See for example “Fire Hill Indians do Their Bit,” Saturday Night, 17 (April, 1915), “Indians at Work for the War,” East and West, 14 April 1917, Max McD., “How Dark Men Help the Empire,” The Courier 25 March 1916, and W. Everard Edmonds, “Canada’s Red Army,” Canadian Magazine 46, Feb., 1921, 340-2. On the topic of Indians and World War One see L. James Dempsey, “Indians of the Prairie Provinces in World War One,” M.A., University of Calgary, 1987; idem., “The Indians and World War One,” Alberta History 31, no. 3 (1983), 108, James W. St. G. Walker, “Race and Recruitment in World War 1: Enlistment of Visible Minorities in the Canadian Expeditionary Force,” Canadian Historical Review 10, no. 1 (1989), 1-26, Fred Graffen, Forgotten Soldiers, (Penticton: 1985).

37. Max McD., “How Dark Men Help the Empire.”

38. Quoted in Dempsey, “The Indians and World War One,” Alberta History.

39. Quoted in Stan Cuth and, “The Native Peoples of the Prairie Provinces in the 1920’s and 1930s,” in One Century Later: Western Canadian Reserve Indians Since Treaty 7, ed. Ian A. L. Getty and Donald B. Smith, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1978), 31-2.

40. Morning Leader, (Regina), 7 December 1918, 20.

41. J. Casten. Hopkins, The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs 1919, (Toronto: The Canadian Annual Review Limited, 1920) 620.

42. The Morning Bulletin, (Edmonton), 17 July 1919, 1.

43. NA, RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 121-6, Scott to Meighen, 29 August 1918.

44. RG 10, vol. 7484, file 25001, Pt. 1, W. J. Black to Scott, 3 February 1919.

45. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 25001, Pt.1, memorandum, Scott to Meighen, 10 March 1919.

46. 1919 Commons Debates 4:3878 (Meighen).

47. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26,121-5, W. A. On to Captain Chance, 13 April 1920.

48. RG 10, vol. 4069, file 427, 063, W. M. Graham to Meighen, 3 April 1919.

49. RG 10, vol. 4070, file 427, 063-A, Scott to Graham, February 1922.

50. David Lupul, “The Bobtail Land Surrender,” Alberta History 26, no. 1, (1978): 36.

51. RG 10, vol. 7484, file 25001, Pt. 1, order of the Privy Council of Canada, 23 April 1918.

52. Raby 44.

53. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 108-4, copy of surrender, 13 June 1919.

54. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 108-4, Graham to Scott, 22 May, 1919.

55. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 108-4, A. F. Mackenzie to J.M. Roberts, 21 September 1919.

56. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 114-4, Graham to Scott, 11 July 1919.

57. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26, 107-3, Pt.1, Graham to Scott, 4 July 1919.

58. Ibid., Scott to On, 9 July 1919.

59. Ibid., Graham to Scott, 21 July 1919.

60. Ibid., Graham to Scott, 12 August 1919.

61. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 137-1, S. Bray to deputy minister of Indian Affairs, 29 April 1919.

62. Ibid., Graham to Meighen, 22 April 1919.

63. Ibid., Bray to deputy minister of Indian Affairs, 29 April 1919.

64. Ibid., Graham to Meighen, 22 April 1919.

65. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26,112-3, E. J. Ashton to Scott, 21 October 1919.

66. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26;107-3, Pt. 1, G. Murcheson to H. W. McGill, 4 April 1939,

67. Ibid.

68. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 127-6.

69. Ibid., Graham to Scott, 30 April 1920.

70. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 131-1, Graham to Scott, 17 July 1919.

71. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 126-6, petition from the residents of the municipalities of Siglunes and Ericksdale to the Soldier Settlement Board and Arthur Meighen, 28 February 1919.

72. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 117-4, H. P. Pearson to the department of Indian Affairs, 22 December 1919.

73. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 108-2, C. G. MacNeil to J. G. Mitchell, Department of the Interior, 13 August 1919.

74. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 131-1, memorandum for Scott from the office of the Minister of the Interior, 23 September 1919.

75. Ibid., Scott to Graham, 21 June 1919.

76. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26, 106-4, Graham to Scott, 11 September 1919.

77. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26, 106, Graham to Scott, 16 August 1919.

78. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26,136-4, extract from minutes of Peguis Council Meeting, 5 May 1919.

79. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 114-2, Pat Cappo to the deputy minister of Indian Affairs, 14 April 1920.

80. RG 10, vol. 7534, file 26,112-2, Pt. 1, C. W. Cavers to the editor, Alberta Veteran, 6 May 1920.

81. Ibid., extract from the Alberta Veteran, 1 May 1920.

82. RG 10, vol. 7484, file 25001, Pt. 1, memorandum, Scott to Meighen, 15 October 1918.

83. Ibid., memorandum, Meighen to Scott, 8 November 1918.

84. Ibid. and CHC Sessional Papers for the year ended 31 March 1919, 29.

85. CHC Sessional Papers, for the year ending 31 March 1920, 12, 16-17 and for the year ending 31 March 1927, 50.

86. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26, 10703 Pt. 1, 4 July 1919.

87. Ibid.

88. RG 10, vol. 7535, file 26, 150-1, “Colony for Disabled Soldiers with Families.” n.d. (1919) n.d. (1919)

89. Ibid., J. W. Burrell to Scott, 29 December 1919.

90. Ibid., clipping “Indians Enter Strong Protest,” n.p., n.d., (1919).

91. 1919 Commons Debates 4:3879 (Cahill).

92. Free Press 3 March 1919.

93. RG 10, vol. 4070, file 427, 063A, J. A. Newnham to Scott, 11 February 1920.

94. Morgan, 53-4.

95. W. L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), appendix C, 304.

96. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26, 103-1, report on the Blood Reserve, 7 October 1943

97. RG 10, vol. 75341, file 26, 118-5, S. Mury to T. Crerar, 8 December 1943.

98. RG 10, vol. 7536, file 26, 164-1, Roy W. Brown, “Indian Reserves,” n.p., 23 July 1945.

99. RG 10, vol. 7533, file 26,107-3, pt. 1, J. C. Caldwell to McGill, 6 April 1939.

100. RC 10, vol. 7534, file 26, 118-5, Crerar to the secretary-treasurer, St. Paul Legion, 25 January 1944.

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