Vanishing Indian, vanishing military: military training and aboriginal lands in twentieth century Canada
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AbstractIn recent years, the closure or reduction of Canadian Forces facilities, the continued use of airspace for weapons testing and low-level flying, increased environmental awareness, and Aboriginal land claims have contributed to a growing interest in the acquisition, use and development of Aboriginal lands for military training. This dissertation explores how the military's interest in Aboriginal lands and concomitant relationships evolved through the twentieth century, using a comparative case study approach that includes various Aboriginal groups, geographic regions, and time periods. Drawing upon untapped archival sources, interviews, primary reports, and secondary literature, the case studies critically examine the land selection and acquisition process, expressions of communal and individual agency, and a myriad of political, socio-economic and environmental legacies stemming from military use. The final section explores the emergence of Native land claims in historical context and the consequent effects on relationships and memory. The results challenge prevailing depictions of the various participants, providing an important commentary on war and society in Canada that yields insight into conflict and cooperation in changing national and local historical contexts. Chapters one to five introduce relationships between the militia, the Department of Indian Affairs, and Indian bands from the turn of the century to 1939. In an era dominated by notions of the "vanishing Indian" and the idea that "surplus" reserve lands near growing cities represented an impediment to national and civic progress, local authorities overseeing the militia's expansion sometimes looked to nearby Indian reserves to meet training needs in an inexpensive and accessible way. The following two case studies deal with military training on Indian reserves during the Second World War, assessing the receptiveness of communities to military plans and the dynamics of federal decision-making in wartime. During the ensuing Cold War, operational requirements expanded and contracted in several cycles. Chapters eight to ten explore how competing interests in Indian reserves and traditional territories and shifting political priorities influenced new and pre-existing relationships between federal officials and Aboriginal communities. For a "vanishing military," the rise of Aboriginal activism brought new challenges, questions, and heightened pressures for change in the last three decades of the century.
Bibliography: p. 465-491.