His Majesty's Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774-1815


294 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-184-2
DDC 323.1'98071





Reviewed by Sidney Allinson

Sidney Allinson is a Victoria-based communications consultant, Canadian
news correspondent for Britain’s The Army Quarterly and Defence, and
author of The Bantams: The Untold Story of World War I.


During the 1980s, when disputes arose again with the Canadian
government, representatives of Canada’s Native peoples preferred to
take their grievances to Westminster, London. This book helps explain
our First Nations’ lasting attachment to Britain, a friendship forged
by long-ago treaties, wars, and alliances.

The author is clearly knowledgeable, having served with the Historical
Research Centre of the Department of Indian Affairs. His study examines
the bloodiest, most turbulent period in Canadian history. Among the
larger-than-life characters who stride its pages are Sir William
Johnson, the powerful British Indian Agent who controlled what is now
upper New York state, while fathering innumerable children among his
Native charges; Joseph Brant, a multilingual Mohawk who was as much at
home on the battlefield as in Whitehall pleading the Six Nations’
cause; and Black Hawk, the faithful Sauk who fought the Great White
Father’s cause in war and never gave up his loyalty afterward.

The real-life adventures covered in this book are the stuff of
swashbuckling novels and movie epics. Treaties, land-grabs, enmities and
loyalties, wars and revolution, intertribal intrigue, long memories of
debts of honor—no other nation has more colorful beginnings than
Canada, yet none seems to show less pride in them now.

Facsimiles of actual manuscripts add interest, as do the texts of
related speeches, which are often quite moving in their simplicity and
sentiments. Period illustrations help capture the look of the times and
principal characters. The lack of adequate maps is a serious drawback,
though students wishing to engage in further research will be helped by
the extensive bibliography. Allen’s study offers interesting new
historical insights into why Canada’s Native peoples consider
themselves still to be more than mere pawns in Ottawa’s
sovereignty-association games.


Allen, Robert S., “His Majesty's Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774-1815,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 23, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/31269.