Monday March 24 th
First Nations Peoples and the Post War Period
AChanging Federal Policy
Churches began in this period to recognise that the old policy for assimilating First
Nations Peoples (hereafter FNP) of the bible and the plough was not working.
Additionally the federal government was concerned about the rising costs of residential
schools. Initially the federal government had believed that the FNP were in the process of
dying off but that was not the case. In fact the numbers of FNP was beginning to swell.
The Federal government was also concerned about the fact the FNP had begun to
organize themselves much like the working class had decades earlier.
The political organization of FNP in emerged in BC where their population was larger
and had not been part of the numbered treaties. The main issues at hand were land rights
and disputes over reserve allocation and how the West Coast FNP had been largely
unincorporated into the national treaty system. To solve their [problems mnay of the West
Coast FNP took to the courts, one of whom was Squamish Chief Joe Caplianous from
Vancouver (1906). One case that was settled in favour of the FNP was the case of Indian
Tribes of the Province of British Columbia vs. the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council in 1907. Other cases include but are not limited to the Nishgia Petition to Ottawa
in 1913 and theAllied Tribes of BC in 1916.
Alot of these land issues arose from how each side viewed land. For the CND
government land was to be farmed or made useful. For the FNP’s it should be held in a
collective for the community.
In a Special Joint Parliamentary Committee in 1927 it was concluded that:
“Indians have not established any claims to the land s of BC based on aboriginal
or other title.”
This of course is false, and though the committee claimed to have looked into Aboriginal
land titles definitions they did not.
Nevertheless the early political organization of FNP’s made the Federal government
uneasy, which resulted in the institution of a ban on FN fundraising to advance land
claims that lasted until 1951.
Other groups such as the League of Indians of CND (1919) lead by Lieutenant
Fred Loft, an Ontario Mohawk Leader, based their claims on their services during the
war. Prairies FN politics increasingly come to dominate the League during the 20’s and
30’s. Natural Resource (Land) Control
In 1930 there was a transfer agreement where the control of resources was to move from
federal dominion to the provinces. In it there is a section which confirms the FN legal
rights to Fish or hunt on unoccupied Crown lands, but only for food. The Provinces
however tried to force FN hunters to obey provincial game and fishing laws which would
require them to hunt only during certain seasons and acquire licences.
Post War Policy Changes
Policy Changes were held in abeyance through the 1930’s as a result of the post war