"Felix Renville"

W6312. Felix Renville. March 18, 1919, Debarkation Hospital #3, Greenhut Building, NY, NY. Joseph K. Dixon, photographer.


Joseph Dixon very actively gathered information about Native participation in the war as part of his ongoing campaign to make all US Indians citizens of the United States. At that time, a significant minority of Indians (over 40%) were not citizens. In 1919 Dixon visited military camps and hospitals on the east coast to talk with veterans who had recently returned from Europe, taking photos of many of them. Wanting to reach more soldiers, Dixon created a questionnaire entitled “List of Indians in the World War” and sent out thousands of copies in 1919-1920. The Wanamaker Collection contains 2,700 completed forms.

The printed forms state, “The purpose of the following questionnaire is to secure information concerning the Indian’s activities in the World War.” The larger purpose is apparent in Dixon’s use of that information—he wanted to demonstrate the Native Americans’ commitment to the country and support of the war effort, regardless of their citizenship status. Dixon’s efforts helped create support for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, making all US Indians citizens whether they welcomed that status or not.