Walter Deiter | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Walter Deiter

Walter Deiter, OC, Chief, Indigenous rights advocate (born 31 May 1916 on Peepeekisis Reserve, SK; died 7 September 1988 in Regina, SK). Walter Deiter was active in the development of Indigenous political organizations in the 1960s. His work helped to establish the National Indian Brotherhood (now Assembly of First Nations) and has resulted in him being appointed to the Order of Canada.

Early Life

Walter Deiter was born on the Peepeekisis Reserve in Saskatchewan (see also Reserves in Saskatchewan; First Nations in Saskatchewan). As a child, Deiter attended residential school at File Hills, Saskatchewan and in southern Manitoba. In 1939, Deiter volunteered to serve with the Royal Regina Rifles in the Second World War. However, before being deployed, he contracted tuberculosis. As a result, he was not deployed. In 1951, he married Inez Wuttunee. Deiter worked as a truck driver and eventually started a landscaping business.


In the late 1950s, Walter Deiter and his wife helped to establish the Saskatoon Friendship Centre (see Friendship Centres). Deiter’s first major political position was as president of the Regina Friendship Centre. Deiter became Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations). Under his leadership, the federation was the first Indigenous organization to receive government funding to support operating costs. Additionally, Deiter helped establish the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) (see Assembly of First Nations). He became the first National Chief of the NIB (see National Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations). He held this position from 1968 to 1970.

During his tenure, he helped the NIB establish a national voice and oppose the 1969 White Paper. Ultimately, he was defeated by George Manuel for the position of National Chief of the NIB in 1970.

After his time as National Chief of the NIB, Deiter worked with various Indigenous organizations in Saskatchewan and nationally. He helped establish the Native Alcohol Council and was a senator of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. He also served on the band council of Peepeekisis First Nation and helped establish and lead the National Indian Veterans Association.

Awards and Distinctions

Officer, Order of Canada (1980)