Race, Gender, and Self-Representation in Enfranchisement Case Files
Enfranchisement case files illuminate more than economics: they are also valuable sources for the analysis of "Indianness" and "whiteness," permitting investigation of women's strategic self-representation with respect to race, gender, and status.
Correspondence from DIA officials and other Euro-Canadians reflected the dominant assumptions about Aboriginal women in the period, assumptions that were clearly familiar to the women who applied for enfranchisement.
Both men and women often mentioned that they planned to make some sort of investment with their enfranchisement money, countering the image of "improvidence" that was a central feature of colonial constructions of Indianness.
Six months later, still without her enfranchisement and payout of band funds, she threatened to keep writing Daly until she received her money: "Mr.
57) Another woman, who separated from her husband shortly after their enfranchisement was completed, attempted to obtain her share of the money via the Indian Department.
These women were generally clear about what they wanted, and enfranchisement for them was virtually always about the money that accompanied the change in legal status.
First Nations women's choices about enfranchisement at this time should be seen in the context of their limited employment opportunities, the desire to improve their financial circumstances, and the inaccessibility of band funds.
At the same time, these stories address negative experiences and issues like discrimination that could not be broached at all in enfranchisement correspondence.
Those applying for enfranchisement often spoke of trying to attain more education, although the files do not show whether or not they were able to do so.
The case files generated through the enfranchisement process provide a window on the occupations and experiences of a small group of First Nations women who left Ontario reserves in the 1920s and 1930s to find work.
Enfranchisement applicants proved their record of steady, successful employment and outlined their plans for maximizing the benefits of their enfranchisement money.
I am also grateful to the University of Manitoba for funding from its University Research Grants Program, which allowed me to access and analyse the enfranchisement case files.
The Mohawks in this case include those of Tyendinaga interviewed by Beth Brant in I'll Sing "Til the Day I Die and those found in the enfranchisement case files for the Gibson--now Wahta--Reserve located on Georgian Bay south of Parry Sound.