A Roundup of Opinion on Atleo and His New Turf
"Newly-elected Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo called for unity among Canada's First Nations people and said this week's hard-fought election shouldn't create division..."It's about how it is we can work together and ensure we have unity across the entire country, not allow an exercise like an election to become another divisive mechanism among our people," Atleo told reporters."Good luck with that, Mr. Atleo.
Indeed, this unity thing is a bit tiresome.
"The first challenge Atleo will face is in becoming sensitive to the concerns of treaty First Nations. Hailing from British Columbia, where the majority of territory is not under historic treaty, he will have to come to know the treaty divisions and challenges of Manitoba. British Columbia is in the midst of negotiating comprehensive modern treaties and is undergoing a debate about re-constituting the hundreds of First Nation communities into a few dozen historic nations. Manitoba is nowhere near that debate, so Atleo would have to understand the challenges of treaty-divided, Indian Act territories like Manitoba.The second item to consider is many First Nations in Manitoba are isolated from the rest of the population. The presence of fly-in communities with significant challenges should be of concern to the new national chief when he deals with Manitoba. It would make sense for the new chief to push for meaningful ways to connect these communities to the outside world, including increased highway networks to the north."
"Many of the smaller First Nations tend to stick together rather than be governed by us "Northerners." As a consequence, the FSIN has often been called the Federation of Southern Indian Nations."There never has been unity and it's ludicrous to expect there would be. You might has well expect the Sudanese to be united with the Scots or the Turks with the Thais, the Mongols with the Moroccans.
AFN election brings hope, questions
“One of the problems that the national office has is the diversity of its constituents,” he explained. “You have the treaty and the non-treaty (peoples).No place on the agenda for human rights, I guess.
“One of the difficulties of the national office has always been, ‘Which comes first, treaty rights or aboriginal rights?’”
Pride and elation
"The Stz’uminus First Nation chief has given a thumbs up to the new head of the Assembly of First Nations.---
versus sour grapes
"Other election watchers from Vancouver Island also congratulated Atleo.
He received praise from officials at Vancouver Island University, where he became chancellor in September 2008.
“We are very proud of Chief Atleo and the work he is doing to advance opportunities for First Nations communities in B.C. and across the country,” VIU president Ralph Nilson said in a release.
Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder, the NDP’s aboriginal affairs critic, also had kind words.
“National Chief Atleo is a strong voice for addressing the serious issues facing many First Nations and he will bring a positive voice in building on the strengths of communities,” Crowder said in a release."
"The chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Lawrence Joseph, also attended Sunday's pow wow and took a swipe at the voting process that elected Atleo.Mr. Joseph should be careful what he asks for. If the voting process changes, and I hope it does, we may see a significant shift in the direction of Indian politics in Saskatchewan and whiners like him will be left behind in the dust. Take a look at the comments following the CBC article. And read this article in the Montreal Gazette.
The national chief is selected by the chiefs, or his or her representative, of the 633 First Nations that are members of the AFN. More than 87 per cent of the bands took part in last week's election.
"I had a lot of calls from chiefs who said that we need to find a better formula to make it more representative of the populations," Joseph told reporters.
"That means the bands that are 7,000, 8,000 [people] are questioning how … a chief with a 100 members could have the same vote."
Joseph said it was also unfortunate that voting for the national chief took so long — more than 23 hours. Almost 100 bands dropped out by the eighth ballot.
"It petered out to become just who can endure the lack-of-sleep the longest," said Joseph."
And BTW, I'm very curious why Atleo ended up visiting Carry the Kettle First Nation, of all the First Nations in Saskatchewan that he could have chosen. I suppose it could be that they had already a standing invitation to the winner, regardless of who it turned out to be, to visit their community, however, this article from the Regina Leader vaguely suggests otherwise.
In any case, Carry the Kettle is a Nakoda band, not Cree like Bellegarde's people. The Plains Cree have dominated Saskatchewan Indian politics for decades, and for that matter, the politics of the AFN as well, having led that organization for fifteen of the past forty years and that doesn't include Matthew Coon Come or Ovide Mercredi, who are also Cree, but not of Plains Cree ethnicity.
In any case, Carry the Kettle First Nation has quietly moved its people forward and many have achieved recognition for their contributions, and IMHO are far less invested in perpetuating the Industry than folks like Mr. Belligerence himself, Perry Bellegarde. I could speculate on a number of reasons, but I'll keep them to myself.
In any case, right out of the gate, Mr. Atleo is using AFN/FSIN treaty speak, no doubt as a nod to his prairie brothers:
"“(It’s) the plight of our communities, the inherent rights that we’re all born to,” he said. “It’s the treaty rights that the ancestors signed that have been passed on as sacred treaties. It’s the plight of the youth in our communities. It’s the health of our people exposed to issues like the H1N1 flu virus. It’s the unsafe housing conditions that our people face, the unsafe drinking water.”"Okay. Just when did treaties between peoples become "sacred". This invocation of the sacrosanct is a platform that the Indian Industry has carefully nurtured over the past thirty five to forty years and if this isn't a money making cult, I don't know what is. And as long as the cult exists, there ain't gonna be no improvement in any of those other issues. Squeezing blood out of stones is a ritual that requires cultish devotion, zealous maintenance of historical ignorance -- and the waste of piles of money thrown into the bottomless pit known as the Indian Industry. It will be a long, long time before that sacred cow is slaughtered, even if Atleo makes gains in the area of education, as he promised in his campaign.