Chiefs Continue Defence Of Treaties

Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 15:42



First Nations leaders at the national treaty gathering in Fort Carlton continue to blast the federal government over its handling of treaties.


Many of the chiefs assembled agree Ottawa has dropped the ball when it comes to implementing and protecting the sacred agreements.


Sol Sanderson is a Saskatchewan delegate who have been working on the issue for 30 years.


He says government continues to take Indian people for granted, while giving back very little.


Other chiefs say the government relies on the Indian Act to guide its policies, instead of Treaties 1 to 11.


Meantime, an elder from Alberta says he wants to see bands becoming more united.


Pete Waskahat of the Frog Lake First Nation says Ottawa has employed divide-and-conquer strategies for several decades without being challenged.


Waskahat adds solidarity could be the key for great change.


Ron Lehman is a member of the Beaver Creek First Nation in Alberta.


He argues a national treaty spokesman must be appointed to fight for treaty rights.


Lehman says appointing such a person would help move the treaty process along on a number of fronts.


Resolutions for action are scheduled to be tabled at the gathering sometime today.


Meanwhile, a new report examining the role of the treaties was unveiled at the gathering yesterday.


Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Lawrence Joseph says the new paper sheds light on the historical documents in a way not seen before.


Up until now, the main book on treaties in Saskatchewan was one created by the former treaty commissioner, Judge David Arnot.


Joseph says this report is noticeably different.


Some of the main assertions in the paper are that First Nations occupied the land before anyone else, that all Indian people come from Mother Earth, and that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 affirmed their sovereignty.


Joseph says he hopes the paper causes people to re-think certain mainstream misconceptions about the treaties.