James Gladstone, or Akay-na-muka, meaning "Many guns," Canada's first native senator (b at Mountain Hill, North-West Territories 21 May 1887; d at Fernie, BC 4 Sept 1971). Gladstone, a member of the BLOOD
tribe, devoted most of his life to the betterment of Canadian Aboriginals. He was president of the Indian Association of Alta (IAA) and 3 times was a delegate to Ottawa to discuss proposed changes in the INDIAN ACT
. He played a prominent part in the fight for better education, greater respect for treaty rights, and participation of Aboriginals in their own administration. On 1 February 1958 he was appointed to the Senate of Canada and in his maiden speech he spoke in Blackfoot "to place in the official debates a few words in the language of my people, the Blackfoot Indians, as a recognition of the first Canadians." In the Senate, Gladstone spoke strongly on issues that affected Aboriginals; he sat on the 1959 joint committee to investigate Aboriginal affairs.
James Gladstone, portrait taken on the occasion of his appointment as senator (courtesy Glenbow/NA-1524-1).
Hugh A. Dempsey, The Gentle Persuader (1987).