MAY 21, 1887

AKAY-NA-MUKA (JAMES GLADSTONE) BORN—FIRST NATIVE CANADIAN SENATOR

Born at Mountain Hill, Northwest Territories, Gladstone, whose Blackfoot name meant “Many Guns,” grew up on the Kainai (Blood) Reserve in Alberta.  While the Kainai are part of the Blackfoot Confederation, his mother was Métis of Cree and Santee Sioux heritage.  He attended Indian Industrial School in Calgary where he learned printing.  In 1905, Gladstone returned to the Reserve.  After working as an interpreter, he married into the Kainai nation and became a successful farmer and rancher.  In 1949, he became president of the Indian Association of Alberta (IAA) and 3 times was its delegate to Ottawa.  On February 1, 1958, Gladstone was appointed to the Senate of Canada—2 years before Indians gained the right to vote in federal elections. He chaired the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and sat on the 1959 joint committee to investigate Aboriginal affairs.  Gladstone retired from the Senate in March 1971 and died on September 4, 1971 in Fernie, British Columbia.

Source:  James Dempsey, “James Gladstone,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1/30/2008.  Retrieved 3/23/2020, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/james-gladstone
Photo:  Canadian Government, 1/1958.  Permissive Use.  

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