Seeing Red
A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers


Cover image (Seeing Red)

The first book to examine the role of Canada’s newspapers in perpetuating the myth of Native inferiority. Seeing Red is a groundbreaking study of how Canadian English-language newspapers have portrayed Aboriginal peoples from 1869 to the present day. It assesses a wide range of publications on topics that include the sale of Rupert’s Land, the signing of Treaty 3, the North-West Rebellion and Louis Riel, the death of Pauline Johnson, the outing of Grey Owl, the discussions surrounding Bill C-31, the “Bended Elbow” standoff at Kenora, Ontario, and the Oka Crisis. The authors uncover overwhelming evidence that the colonial imaginary not only thrives, but dominates depictions of Aboriginal peoples in mainstream newspapers. The colonial constructs ingrained in the news media perpetuate an imagined Native inferiority that contributes significantly to the marginalization of Indigenous people in Canada. That such imagery persists to this day suggests strongly that our country lives in denial, failing to live up to its cultural mosaic boosterism.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover 1
Contents 6
Acknowledgements 8
Introduction 14
Rule of Three 17
Empire of “Common Sense” 19
Imagine Canada 25
From Rupert's Land to the Twenty-first Century 27
Chapter One - This Land is Mine: The Rupert’s Land Purchase, 1869 30
“The Garden of the World” 35
“Hopeless Stagnation” 37
“He Surprised and Destroyed Two Villages” 41
“Beyond All Praise” 44
“As Degraded a Set of Savages as Can Be Imagined” 46
“They are Consummate Beggars” 48
Chapter Two - Fifty-Six Words: Treaty 3, 1873 51
“A Man Cannot be Both a Hunter and a Farmer” 53
“First, the Indians Must Have Presents” 55
“Let us Bless God That He Has Brought a Vine Into This Wilderness” 56
Chapter Three - “Our Little War”: The North-West Rebellion, 1885 69
“Second Conquest” 71
“Riel Must Pay” 74
“We'll Hang Louis Riel” 79
“It Is the Absolute Truth” 81
“Canadians Will Never Treat the Indians as Our Neighbours Have Done” 84
“Brotherly Consideration For the Weak” 86
“Blessings of Our Christian Civilization” 88
“I Shall Be King or Die” 89
Chapter Four - The Golden Rule: The Klondike Gold Rush, 1898–1905 94
“An Inordinate Amount of Superstition” 100
“Heap Old Man! The Young Squaw! Both Crazy” 103
“Dying Off Like a Flock of Sheep With the Rot” 105
Chapter Five - Poet, Princess, Possession: Remembering Pauline Johnson, 1913 110
“Distinguishing Characteristics of the Proud and Capable Tribe ” 112
“In the Hands of the Women's Canadian Club” 117
“She Was a Princess” 124
Chapter Six - Disrobing Grey Owl: The Death of Archie Belaney, 1938 127
“Our Beloved Grey Owl” 131
“A Real Flesh and Blood Indian” 134
“A Bit Thick” 140
“I Don't Care Whether He Was an Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman or Negro” 143
Chapter Seven - “Potential Indian Citizens?”: Aboriginal People after World War II, 1948 148
“Indian Veterans Capable Farmers” 151
“Don't Needum” 153
“Again Into the Bush” 155
“A Few Minutes Later She Was Calmly Smoking a Cigarette” 157
“The Indian List” 159
“Indian Chief is Charged With Murder” 161
Chapter Eight - Cardboard Characters: The White Paper, 1969 166
“Down the Garden Path” 168
“Warpath Angers” 170
“I Have No Desire to be a Great White Father” 177
“Salvation of His Race” 178
“Aggressive New Attitude” 181
Chapter Nine - Bended Elbow News: The Anicinabe Park Standoff, 1974 184
“Address the Rot” 190
“Step into Reality From Your Dream World” 192
“It's Hard to Show Empathy and Love” 199
Chapter Ten - Indian Princess / Indian “Squaw”: Bill C-31, 1985 203
Legendary Indian Princess 205
“Memories of a Noble Past” 207
“Keep the Indians Out of Town” 211
“She Has Been a Church-Going Christian Since She was Nineteen” 216
“I Don't Know Why They Don't Marry Their Own Kind” 220
“They Knew" 223
"New Definition of Indian" 226
Chapter Eleven - Letters From the Edges: The Oka Crisis, 1990 230
“Please Write” 238
“We Do Not Need People Who Burn Our Flag and Use It as Toilet Paper” 245
Chapter Twelve - Back to the Future: A Prairie Centennial, 1905–2005 254
“Passing of the Red Man” 256
“Dirty and Thoroughly Degenerate” 260
“Everything That This Country Stands For” 263
“A Gift From the Twentieth Century” 267
“I Like the Costumes" 272
Conclusion - Return of the Native 276
“My Own Fantasy” 282
Notes 288
Introduction 288
Chapter One - This Land is Mine 293
Chapter Two - Fifty-Six Words 299
Chapter Three - “Our Little War” 304
Chapter Four - The Golden Rule 312
Chapter Five - Poet, Princess, Possession 315
Chapter Six - Disrobing Grey Owl 318
Chapter Seven - “Potential Indian Citizens?” 322
Chapter Eight - Cardboard Characters 325
Chapter Nine - Bended Elbow News 328
Chapter Ten - Indian Princess / Indian “Squaw” 332
Chapter Eleven - Letters From the Edges 337
Chapter Twelve - Back to the Future 341
Conclusion - Return of the Native 344
Bibliography 347
Newspapers 347
Government Documents 348
Secondary Sources 348
Index 363