Oily Chiefs, Idle No More, and the AFN

by Zig Zag, Warrior Publications, January 17, 2013Idle No More protect enviro sign

To fully understand the phenomenon of Idle No More, you must imagine two parallel universes. In one, INM is comprised of good-hearted grassroots Native people responding to a call to oppose Bill C-45 and to protect the land and water of their traditional territories. In the other, however, are chiefs using the mobilization to achieve their political & economic agenda, an agenda that includes partnering with corporations seeking to exploit oil and gas resources on reserve lands.

Faction of Chiefs Oppose Atleo’s “Assimilation” Policy

Correspondence between chiefs and aides was recently acquired by the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) calling for the removal of Shawn Atleo as the head of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). This occurred after Atleo announced a temporary leave from his position for medical reasons last week (see “AFN’s fault lines magnified by Idle No More movement,” APTN National News, Jan 15, 2013).

According to supporters of Atleo, including Ernie Cray of the Sto:lo Tribal Council in southern BC, this most recent effort to oust Atleo is a continuation of last June’s AFN elections, in which Atleo won his re-election. They have asserted that INM is being used as a vehicle to force Atleo from office. According to Crey:

“These folks who lost out to Shawn Atleo are using the cover of Idle No More to fight last July’s AFN election all over again, and they’re hoping to unseat him…”

(“Dissidents seize on Atleo’s illness, chiefs call for non-confidence vote,” Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post, Jan 16, 2013)

Pam Palmater attempts to gain position of national chief of AFN during elections, June 2012.

Pam Palmater attempts to gain position of national chief of AFN during elections, June 2012.

Pam Palmater, a Míkmaq lawyer and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson

University, came in a distant second in the AFN elections, winning 141 votes (to Atleo’s 341). Palmater has been one of the main spokeswomen for Idle No More. Crey asserts that Palmater is attempting to promote herself while undermining Atleo in an effort to gain control of the AFN.

Chiefs and Big Oil

One of the chiefs spearheading the campaign against Atleo is Onion Lake Cree Nation chief Wallace Fox. Chief Fox was one of the chiefs that challenged the 2012 AFN election results, and also coordinated with Idle No More in carrying out the symbolic attempt to enter the House of Commons, on Dec 4, 2012 (which generated considerable publicity and helped launch INM’s Dec 10 national day of action).

Chiefs attempt to enter House of Commons, Dec 4, 2012; chief Fox in cowboy hat helps lead the charge.

Chiefs attempt to enter House of Commons, Dec 4, 2012; chief Fox in cowboy hat helps lead the charge.

Although both Fox and Palmater claim that Atleo is leading the AFN down a path of assimilation, the Onion Lake band, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, is one of the wealthiest bands in the country. It has made deals with numerous corporations such as Black Pearl Resources (which provides Onion Lake with a 34.5 per cent royalty on every barrel of oil extracted) and Calgary’s Fogo Energy (which provides for a 50 per cent royalty) and currently produces some 20,000 barrels per day through 400 drilling wells, making it the top oil producing Native band in the country:

“Onion Lake has become one of the most prosperous First Nations in the country by capitalizing on oil and gas projects in its territory. It is the largest oil producing First Nation in Canada and operates several companies involved in the energy sector.”

(“Atleo pushing First Nations down “assimilation” road, says former backer,” by Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, June 22, 2012)

(Source for bpd: “Top oil producing First Nation seeks OPEC audience“, by Jorge Barrera, APTN National News, Nov 23, 2012)

Black Pearl Resources is also involved in the Alberta Tar Sands through its Blackrod operations.

Oil pump in Saskatchewan.

Oil pump in Saskatchewan.

Back in 2004, when the Alberta government was having trouble with bands in the Slave Lake area opposing the oil & gas industry & erecting roadblocks, they praised Onion Lake Cree Nation for its collaborative approach:

It’s certainly not every band that’s doing it [blockades] and many of them work very well with the resource companies,” said Snelgrove [a member of the legislative assembly]. “And many of them have taken that extra step and developed their own. In Onion Lake for example, they have developed their own resource business and are very successful.”

“Onion Lake has taken that proactive approach to the resource industry and as a result has never had problems coming to agreement with industry.
(“Onion Lake takes a lead role in oil industry relations,” Lloydminster Meridian Booster, March 17, 2004)

In September 2012, Onion Lake Cree Nation helped facilitate a collaborative business venture with other bands in the region, in an agreement,

“…signed between Onion Lake Energy, owned and operated by Onion Lake Cree Nation… and Driftpile, Sucker Creek, and Ermineskin First Nations. The agreement to create the Wanska Energy Alliance will see the four First Nations work together as strategic partners over the next year to explore economic opportunities, including joint gas and oil ventures.”

(“Economic development agreement will lead to self-sufficiency,” By Shari Narine, Alberta Sweetgrass, Vol. 19, Issue 5, 2012)

Chief Fox is also on the board of directors of the Indian Resource Council, established

Logo of Indian Resource Council.

Logo of Indian Resource Council.

in 1987 to assist Native band councils in managing and exploiting oil and gas resources on reserve lands. Today, the IRC has some 189 bands as members, including 64 in Saskatchewan, 40 in Alberta, 31 in Manitoba, and 20 in Ontario. Many of these bands, such as the Blood tribe in Alberta, are today involved in multi-million dollar oil and gas operations on reserve lands.

Chief Fox and others have also been seeking international partners for their oil and gas business. In November 2009, for example, chief Fox and a delegation of other chiefs traveled to Taiwan for meetings with Chinese Petroleum Corp. in an effort to partner with the company for oil & gas extraction on reserve lands.

Fox originally supported former Rosseau River Indian Act chief Terrance Nelson in the June 2012 AFN elections. Nelson only gained 35 votes in the first ballot, 25 in the second, and dropped out during the third. Nelson had been chief of the Rosseau River band for many years, where he became known for his radical statements and militant

Terrance Nelson during his speech seeking election as national chief of AFN, June 2012.

Terrance Nelson during his speech seeking election as national chief of AFN, June 2012.

rhetoric. In 2007, he had threatened a train blockade during the AFN’s national day of action, but never carried it out (instead making a multi-million dollar deal to settle a land claim).

After losing his band chief position in 2011, and the AFN election in June 2012, Nelson gained international attention in October 2012 when he travelled to Iran with other current and former chiefs . The delegation sought investment deals with Iran as well as assistance in approaching OPEC member countries for even greater economic opportunities (OPEC is the organization of petroleum exporting countries).

While in Iran, Nelson condemned Canada’s apartheid system and stated that reserves were concentration camps on national Iranian television. The Iran delegation occurred during a heightened period of tension between Iran and Western states, including the US and Canada.

Joe Dion of Frog Lake band stands in front of oil facilities. "We are capitalists."

Joe Dion of Frog Lake band stands in front of oil facilities. “We are capitalists.”

In November 2012, chief Fox announced that the Onion Lake Cree Nation would also be seeking a partnership with OPEC states. In early December 2012, grand chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, along with Ontario AFN regional chief Stan Beardy, met with a senior official from the Chinese consulate to discuss business opportunities with China.

Tibetans protest sale of Nexen to Chinese corporation; fueling repression.

Tibetans protest sale of Nexen to Chinese corporation; fueling repression.

Chief Fox and others assert that economic self-sufficiency is the key to independence, and their main demands of the state and corporations are for equal partnerships in business ventures. Joe Dion, a hereditary Kehewin Cree chief and president of Frog Lake Energy Resources Corp. (FLERC), states it clearly: “We’re capitalists,” says Dion. “You wouldn’t know us from A and B Oil & Gas down the street” (“An oil sands venture in Frog Lake is redefining old roles,” Alberta Oil Magazine, June 27, 2010).

These chiefs have been at the forefront of instigating the INM mobilizations in their respective regions. Not only did they lead the charge in attempting to symbolically enter the House of Commons, they have also organized many of the rallies & blockades in their provinces and have been central players in efforts to undermine AFN grand chief Shawn Atleo. It was chiefs from these three provinces who boycotted the Jan 11 meeting between Harper and the AFN, and who also called for the Jan 16 day of action.

Indian Act chiefs lead one of numerous INM rallies.

Indian Act chiefs lead one of numerous INM rallies.

It is not by mere coincidence that it is in the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario that the Idle No More mobilization began and where it initially had the greatest traction. This is because it had the backing of the Indian Act chiefs and the resources at their disposal. Across the country as well, band and tribal councils are also participating in INM rallies because of massive funding cuts to tribal councils and provincial organizations announced by the federal government in early September 2012 (such as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs).   And of course there also many, among both the chiefs and grassroots, who resent the dictatorial manner of the Harper government.  

While the Aboriginal business elite engages in a power struggle with the state over issues such as political power and economic development (“resource sharing”), the grassroots is motivated by defense of land & water.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Of course, there aren’t two “parallel universes.” The reality is that there are various factions working under the banner of Idle No More. The official founders of INM, while publicly distancing themselves from the Jan 16 day of action and “illegal” blockades, have worked from the beginning with the chiefs from Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, as well as Pam Palmater. Most of the grassroots people participating in INM probably have little understanding of the internal dynamics at play, and the political maneuverings that are occurring.

In Sept 2011, three women were arrested on the Blood reserve protesting fracking, the work of a joint venture between the band council and corporation.

In Sept 2011, three women were arrested on the Blood reserve protesting fracking, the work of a joint venture between the band council and corporation.

What all of this tells us is that, alongside the inspiring and hopeful messages of “unity” and “Indigenous Rights Revolution” is the murky world of Indian Act chiefs and the Aboriginal business elite attempting to use the grassroots as political leverage in their power struggle with the government, & against the AFN’s Shawn Atleo. The image gets even murkier when one considers the irony of INM participants protesting “foreign corporations” accessing natural resources and some of the main proponents of INM seeking deals with those same corporations for oil and gas.

Protester at temporary train blockade, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Jan 16, 2013.

Protester at temporary train blockade, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Jan 16, 2013.

Recently, public forums on Idle No More have been organized asking the question “Where do we go from here?” While this is an important question for any grassroots movement, equally as important in regards to INM is “Where did we come from?” As I have stated repeatedly, INM is not simply a grassroots movement, but is instead one that has been manipulated from the start by Indian Act chiefs with their own agenda, and who worked closely with the “official founders” of INM in mobilizing the grassroots in pursuit of that agenda.

Where do we go from here? I would suggest that those genuinely interested in Indigenous liberation go back to the grassroots and begin the process of self-organizing an autonomous resistance movement, without “official” leadership from middle-class elites and separate from the Indian Act band councils, who are in reality an Aboriginal business elite seeking greater participation in industry.

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Indian Act Indians, Oil & Gas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. I always enjoy reading your articles, because you never shy away from addressing very controversial issues, but I really wish things were as clear-cut as you try to make them sound. And even though I am a grandmother, I wish I could claim to KNOW as much as you claim to KNOW about how people that you have probably never even met in person actually think and what they believe. Because the truth is that the older I get, the more I realize that the little bit of knowledge that I actually have is nothing more than one handfull of sand off of this very large beach we call life. And even if I have known someone for years, and think I KNOW what they believe, I have learned that I should never assume that I do know, without checking with them, first. Nor should I attempt to speak on their behalf, without their permission to do so. But one thing that I have come to believe, as a result of my own life experience, is that there are many chiefs who are spiritually-guided and who are true leaders of their people. These chiefs are very different from the chiefs and corporate leaders and politicians, such as Harper, who have been corrupted by GREED for power and wealth. However, I believe that only Creator truly KNOWS which group any of our leaders fit into – elected or not. The confusion lies in the fact that even those chiefs who are spiritually guided need to find a way to get out from the system of dependency that all First Nations find ourselves in. And there is no way to do this, without creating an economy to fund our own governance structures and our own social programs and services. My only hope is that all true leaders of our people, who understand the critical importance of doing this, will never forget the importance of honouring and protecting Our Sacred Mother Earth, because without Our Mother, there is no future for any of us. So, I would like to thank you for keeping us aware of very important issues, and for reminding me, personally, about how little I actually do know, and how important it is to have FAITH and remain spiritually-connected, since Our Creator is the only true source of wisdom we have. However, I would also like to suggest that you make more of an effort to get your facts straight when you try to discredit our spiritually-guided chiefs, by lumping them into the same category with corrupt officials. I would also like to suggest that you start supporting the four spiritually-guided women who founded the growing Idle NO More movement, because they truly are raising the hopes of many that you are trying to diminish, by lumping them in with the “middle-class”, and insinuating that they are getting huge donations from oil-rich bands to fund the movement, when, in truth, they are working day and night, on top of what little paid employment they can find to support themselves and their families. It really hurts me, personally to see people dedicating their lives to make a better life for all of us, discredited by writers who don’t even take the time to meet with them in person and get their facts straight. Take care, stand tall, stay strong & make more of an effort to find out the TRUTH – before you print it! In solidarity & love – FOREVER Idle No More!

    • Thanks for the letter Arlene. I attempt to be as factual as I can be, basing analyses on public actions & statements made by individuals. Unlike the oil chiefs, I cannot fly around the country and meet every person that is the subject of my writings. Nevertheless, I am not “speaking on their behalf,” they’re the ones who made these statements. I am not fabricating the fact that Nelson and Fox and other chiefs are approaching foreign states and OPEC for greater oil & gas development, or that many on the prairies are involved in multi-million dollar deals for those resources. Nor did I state or even imply that the INM founders are profiting from the oil chiefs. You say we should not confuse the genuine spiritually-guided chiefs from the corporate ones, but I would say that one who claims to be spiritual would not be sitting in positions of wealth and power, overseeing toxic industries such as oil and gas. As for the “official founders” of INM, the fact that they may be sincere in their efforts doesn’t make them immune from criticism. They have been using their influence to impose pacifism and strictly “legal” forms of action, criticizing other’s actions (such as blockades), etc. To not question is to simply accept the dictates of others because they “mean well,” which is illogical.

    • brilliant and beautiful, Arlene..the article too, is extremely well done , presenting some good points and valuable information to a settler passionately in support of idle No More..food for thought..and your response could have come right out of my own head. I am listening, as I write, to the CBC coverage of Idle No More and am profoundly aware of the power and the perspective at the heart of the movement. Your letter validates my own perspective and I envision the spirit of the movement permeating all the meetings that must accompany the movement..the meetings in Thunder Bay for instance…

  2. Our movement has never had the buy in from the old boys club, now they have no chice but to recognize that these corporate bastards are working against our rights. We have a situation were they are empowered to act and you criticize, we can pressure and support these leaders to move with the people under idle no more and it’s still not good enough for u….what’s your strategy for moving forward?! What’s your plan?! What should we do mr crab in a bucket?????

    • I’m not sure I fully understand your comment. As for your assessment of the situation I obviously disagree. You seem to think you’re exerting pressure on the chiefs to act, but they’re the ones who really initiated the mobilization and who have, in contrast to the liberal INM founders, “pushed” the boundaries (at least rhetorically). Opportunists do not “move with the people” they exploit or undermine any genuine grassroots movements. As for strategy I have already stated that I believe the grassroots needs to self-organize itself autonomously from middle-class reformists and the Aboriginal business elite before any real resistance movement can be established.

  3. I feel let down ,there are always 3 sides to every story,yours,theirs and the truth,of which I have no idea what that is after reading this article.

  4. I cannot accept your conspiratorial theory as written. There is no doubt that some Chiefs have aspirations for their bands and themselves. They are by definition politicians. However they may not be as adept at plotting the overthrow of Atleo as you suggest. It is Atleo after all who has had secret meetings with Harper (i.e. Nov. 28th). If anyone has been outed as suspicious in their political behaviour it is Atleo. The grassroots movement and it’s members are not being naive in their participation. They recognise that as a leaderless movement every participant has his own thoughts and reasons for action and support. And certainly most of the movement are not against economic development that benefits the people; only that it be done in a responsible, environmentally safe and fair manner. INM is not addressing the political and industrial details. That must be determined once the integrity of the people and culture are reasserted and secured.

    It is clear that you offer a regional viewpoint and support Atleo, which is fine. However I, and many others, who have no political or financial stake feel that as National Chief, Atleo has not delivered to the First Nations people. INM represents popular vote, not the machinations of the subset of Chiefs. If Palmater or Fox have their own agenda, it is not of central concern to INM. Eventually, INM will follow whoever works for the benefit of the entirety of First Peoples and Canada as a whole.

    So while your opinion is noted, please do not muddy the waters with cloak and dagger scenarios that may or may not come to fruition.

    • Thanks for the comment Peter. I am not a supporter of Atleo, and I believe the AFN is an agent of the colonial state along with the band council system. I agree Atleo will probably be the biggest loser here. You say INM is not addressing political and industrial details, and imply that it is focused on the integrity of the people and culture… how you arrive at this conclusion I don’t understand. It seems clear that INM began in opposition to Bill C-45, which is a federal budget bill and has everything to do with politics and industry. As regards cloak and dagger scenarios, I think the division in AFN isn’t a secret, it’s just not generally well known. Nor are the business activities of some of the chiefs leading the charge. If this kind of info “muddies” your water, then perhaps you should check your water supply.

      • The opposition of INM to Bill C-35 was not political in that the concerns were to treaty rights. And while that may be political in one sense the focus of the concern is human rights for the participants more than political or economic advantage. I believe that Human Rights are a social issue that required a political stand against the Harper agenda. But the goal again is not political gain. (Downstream in time I hope that the First Peoples will achieve full political sovereignty but this is not the immediate objective.) Likewise, removal of the Harper agenda through repealing bills like C-35 will be economically fruitful but stabilizing the communities financially is a social objective. There is no question that political methods are in play but INM was sparked by a cultural need to halt the termination of the aboriginal rights; to end bigotry; unfairness; and environmental devastation. These are beyond just politics and industrial aspirations.

      • I don’t know Pete, a lot of word-play and semantics going on here.

  5. Thanks for trying to shed some light on the complex context of the people and events involved with “Idle No More.”

  6. I, a Cree in Northern Saskatchewan, did not partake in the election of Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations(FSIN) and Assembly of First Nations(AFN) chiefs. These elected leaders were appointed by other elected chiefs. I have more trust and confidence in the women(people) and voices behind INM.

  7. I don’t know what these people here are trying to accomplish, I am not a politician far from it, but to try and cause a divide between OUR peoples is just SILLY. Why, even bring garbage like this up. The point is the hAPER govn’t is still a racist ass group of clowns. You can keep on trying to cause your bull-shit division, but the truth is; YOUR meaning of division, and OUR meaning of being divided is WORLDS APART !!! I am and always will be for INM, AND against the so-called ‘village people’ …RED POWER !!!

    • So you’re not a politician eh? Far from it, in fact? We do not need politicians to see or think or listen. The fact is there are already divisions, and most importantly in this context is the division between above and below, between those with power and those without. I am not causing any divisions, they are already established. The existence of an elite political and economic class, as in the Indian Act chiefs and Aboriginal business elite, is the proof of this division.

      • Thank you Mr. Writer for your honesty. I do get a kick out those leaders whom say one thing and do the other. How can you be against governments, industry, profit and yet hold an eagle feather in the other. If some one starts talking balanced approaches then i will begin to support them, until then i will sit back and watch while our people argue amongst themselves again. Its a wonder a the government has been successful with there suppressive policies, we FN people can’t get on the same page.

    • Only division is large amount of monies supplied that are not supplied to any other group in Canada. Equality? Where? Harper has shown no racism that I can see so quit raising a rucus and using this comment as some type of power tool with nothing to back it and thank the government for the millions of dollars pumped into what your own people can t fix on their own. White people speak up and we are racist. Red power speaks up and its not…. errr , ok.

  8. Interesting piece, Zig Zag, and sheds some interesting light on the internal machinations. I definitely agree with you about the role of Indian Act chiefs working to co-opt the movement. I do have a couple questions though. One is whether you’re certain about the coordination between the founders of INM and the chiefs (especially the original actions of “storming” parliament). I haven’t seen anything yet that really shows that there was co-ordination before this point; it seems just as likely that with INM already starting to garner interest, that the two actions (INM and Chiefs protest) got lumped together by the media and/or the chiefs moved on to try and co-opt INM as it gained steam. I’m not saying people weren’t already talking, but I get the impression from their statements that some of the founders are wary of Indian Act Chiefs, even those who are taking more radical public stances (ie, Nipenak). I know the affiliation with Pam Palmater and her push to lead the AFN puts INM within the realm of political maneuvering, but I don’t really know Palmater’s stances enough – did she lose because she didn’t make the right political deals, or did she lose because the more entrenched political chiefs saw her as a threat?

    My other thought is that it seems counter-intuitive that IA Chiefs who are pushing for oil & gas development as a priority would also be against the changes to Navigable Waters and Environmental assessments. If their focus is profit and power, wouldn’t they accept this? Or is it a situation where either a) exploitation of oil and gas on their territory isn’t particularly affected by these changes, b) that they are more upset by some aspects of the omnibus bills (cuts to funding, maybe the privatization of land) than they are by others, but can’t just pick and choose and/or c) it’s just too politically untenable for them to support the changes to the NWA or the Enviro assessment program, since they know that they’ll be voted out next time if they don’t jump on the INM bandwagon.

    Not sure if you – or anyone – can have all the answers to these questions, but I’d be interested in hearing any thoughts you ahve.

    • Thanks for the comment Tim. Sheelah McLean messaged me on Dec 15 in response to an article I wrote and stated: “IDM contacte [sic] the Chiefs through texts and asked them to go to Parliament Hill. Chief Wallace Fox agreed and discussed it with the others…” She is referring to the Dec 4 attempt to enter the House of Commons. In regards to why the chiefs oppose aspects of Bill C-45 when they are seeking greater partnerships with corporations for resources, I can only speculate. We know the AFN and chiefs had little to say in opposition to both Bills C-38 and C-45 until early December, even tho’ the bills were announced in the spring of 2012. I would say the factions of chiefs behind INM and efforts to oust Atleo see him as being too conciliatory and not pressing the government enough for revenue sharing resulting from resource exploitation. They may also be concerned that Bill C-45 will lessen their ability to manage such business ventures and weaken their ability to leverage greater profits from industrial projects. I think their track records, for the most part, show that they are not sincere about concerns for the environment.

  9. Jamahiriya News Agency

    Thanks Zig Zag for your critically important and revolutionary article. We all want change but unless this is grass roots, by and for the people, I’m afraid it will just play into the government’s hands and those of criminal corporations. Stepping back and reassessing the situation so the movement can come from a foundation of unity is essential to victory.

    He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.

    Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

    Sun Tzu – The Art of War

  10. Thank you so much Zig Zag for another very insightful article. This is really the only website I’ve been following for news and analysis on INM and I am very grateful, and hope you keep it up as best you can. It is important work.

    I don’t know how so many previous commenters get so confused about this article, and put so many words in your mouth. I find it clearly written, and helpful. I am a non-Native so find it helpful to understand more about the divisions within the AFN and between other Native political leaders. One thing I’m unclear about is how to balance wanting to support true self-determination for Indigenous peoples on their own traditional territory, and strongly disagreeing with industrial exploitation. I don’t want to be another version of the militant animal rights protestors who tried stopping the Makah from killing whales in the late 1990s. But I would definitely want to stop anyone, Native or not, from exploiting oil and gas.

    As a non-Native I don’t know what to do when Native people talk about needing to be ecomonically independent in order to govern themselves, and then seek economic independence by clearcut logging, tar sands, etc. I don’t want to impose my values or vision of living in small-scale, non-industrial, non-hierarchical communities that aren’t reliant on fossil fuels or electrical grids.

    I think this article can help non-Native people unlearn the colonial belief that all Natives are alike, and that Native people are inherently more in tune with the earth, and treat the earth with respect, etc. People all over the planet succumb to power and greed.

  11. What percentage of people actually vote for Indian Act chiefs? Also, your semantics comment was my sentiment, exactly. (Pete)

  12. ;Let it be known that when the Earth’s greedy corporate factions have destroyed all the planet’s precious natural gifts to us all, that it will be the indigenous cultures that have not forgotten or given up their ways that will be left to rebuild this planet. Tourism, museums, arts, concerts, lodging and eating establishments are but a few ways First Nations can sustain themselves and continue to model how the human species is to exist along with, (not against), other species on this planet. Time will point this out. The ultimate question is; Will this planet be in any shape to be rebuilt after greedy inhumane humans fulfill their dreams of monetary wealth and power? The answer and responsibility lies within us all. Do not let our grandchildren consider all of us “criminal ancestors”. Ron

  13. Great article….glad there is so much talk over this one. Im a bit confused myself with understanding all that is going on, however I can fully appreciate what you are saying here. I support Idle No More and all of the grassroots movement. I feel like myself when we talk about grassroots….to live a simple life is impossible now a days…I wish for all the `politics` and `political correctness`and `white mans laws` and un-needed bullshit to disappear. I believe in truth, honesty, accountability, hardwork, love and peace. All the rest can F-OFF cuz Im really sick of the colonial, capitolistic, imperial, war filled, crime ridden garbage that continually enters my life, when its simply not needed.

  14. There is a reality to the ‘leadership’ role of the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Shawn ‘A-in-chut’ Atleo consistently makes this point, the AFN is an advocacy assembly and its leader is bound by the mandate of a consensus policy. Everyone is so hard wired into representative democracy as a disconnect between that elected official and the constituents who vote and then abandon politics leaving things to the discretion of that voice. Not so with the AFN. Every point Atleo carried to the table with the Harper meeting was discussed and agreed upon before hand. To blame Atleo is simply a lack of understanding this process. Pam Palmater made her bid to lead the AFN with an aggressive NO ATLEO campaigne and lost by a considerable margin. There is a disconnect here and I think Pam has enormous potential if she transcends her sense of self importance. Remember she has a comfortable six figure salary and commands a million dollars in research funds that at her discretion could even be applied to participation in the Idle No More movement. Chief Atleo came into the new year with a nasty flu and went on to two weeks of virtually sleepless nights until the orchestrated meeting was held. Time will make us all much wiser…

  15. The Minister Duncan said after Jan 11 meeting that the government had done the required consultation with First nations. This is so far, unverified. Could it be that the AFN concurred with C-45 in return for other concessions, behind closed doors? or Why would Duncan say that?

    • MP Duncan only talks from pre written talking points issued to him.you might want to note that in 7 years Minister Duncan has visited a total of 50 Reserves through Canada’s 633. Hell he didn’t even go to be with his Children on coast when their Mother died as he doesn’t like to be on reserves for personal or political reasons. here is the kink to the discussions & who opposed bill C45 that CPC claimed to have consulted 12-20 people does not warrant consultation and you will find that AFN was opposed.http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-1/C-45/

  16. So confusing. As a White guy, I’d really like to see a healthy relationship emerge in the coming years. I have no doubt that the catalyst, at least a significan part of why things are so screwed up is due to colonialism, but hey… Aboriginals are humans too, and the one thing all humans do really well, is screw stuff up.

    So I’m confused. If the grass-roots segment of INM opposes resource development, but wants more out of their relationship with the rest of the country… how exactly will that work? Isn’t sitting on a reserve, with no economy to speak of, and nothing to offer, really, make you idle? And how is that healthy?

    I could see if there was an outright rejection of almost all things colonial, including technology and its trappings, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems like most INM supporters want a mix of the old and the new, but without embracing the nasty part of the new that pays for the trappings of colonial culture.

    Trying to Understand / Not racist… or at least no more than anybody else.

  17. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/06/08/north-uranium-policy-critic.html ….
    i am quite scared about uranium being mined … but then i use some fair amount of electricity myself what partly is made with nuclear fission …, i wish that very soon projects like http://www.quantumheat.org/ could allow for example decentral production of abundant electricity and coupled with 3d printing technology and robotic small scale automatisation … eventually there could be income opportunities … mmmmhh.. i did write an utopian novel in 2007 where i envision such a combination of local production with clean electricity generation technologies …http://www.bookrix.com/_title-en-andreas-buechel-as-mayloveheal-ascende-maima-perma-and-mary-the-lifeship-1

  18. As has been said but in this forum…to shorten my comments to this…there truth is a three edged sword! Your side, my side and the truth!

    • CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS COMMENT: Understanding is a three edged sword…your side, my side & the truth!! Sorry for the mix up!

  19. I wrote a blog post yesterday (‘First Nations and resource development: friends or enemies?’) about this very same topic because in my research, I was surprised to find out how many First Nations have their own oil and gas and/or mining companies. Some of them are pretty big with plans to expand, and I’m guessing that throughout SK, AB and BC we’re talking a lot of land. I was surprised to learn that two of these First Nations (Frog Lake and Mikisew Cree) are the same ones I had earlier applauded for suing the federal government over the omnibus bills. When I first heard about the court challenge, I assumed it was on environmental grounds. I thought, ‘These people are fighting back and protecting their land! Good for them, stick it to Harper!’. At least that’s the prominent message in protests and in the media. I’ve heard some people talk about resource sharing and development, but that’s quite different from aggressive resource extraction. I’m wondering how the path of resource exploitation can be reconciled with traditional aboriginal values. I’m not aboriginal, but as an anti-capitalist and an environmentalist who strongly supports indigenous sovereignty, I’ve personally wondered whether sustainable development will just prove to be a pipe dream in the end. I keep thinking about the Prophecy of the 8th Fire and how it talks about two very different paths. One is continuing on our current path and the other sounds pretty radical, like a return to nature. I don’t believe in following doctrine for the sake of it, but there’s a truth in this. As long as we maintain the current system, even if we change it, the cogs in the machine will still be turning and there will always be a way for it to be co-opted. That temptation will never go away. I just don’t know if we can have it both ways.

  20. I’m way “down” here in Kansas and from what I gather, there are a few different types of people involved with this movement. There are those Native leaders who are upset that they are being cut out of the business dealings, those who sincerely want to see things change and aspects of this bill removed but believe so much in doing it within the framework of an oppressive system they may not realize it probably will not make a difference. Call it being naive. Then there are those who are seeing this as a fade into ideas and concepts they may not have thought about before. If anything, the Idle No More movement has at least made some Native aware about things, where they didn’t really concern themselves before. I can see it has sparked some Natives to become more active in addressing issues in their local communities. But ultimately, if any change for the better is to occur, it won’t happen in compromises between colonial and tribal puppet governments.

  21. So, if there are ulterior motives factoring in every which way, are you diminishing the ideals and values of the INM movement to strengthen it or what?

  22. Zig Zag, I wish it were as easy as you say. The 4 women started when russel diabo released the Termination Plan and Lawyer Sharon Venne started explaining what the coming 14 Bills did to Title and rights of all First Nations treaty and non-treaty. In fact, Pamela Palmater doesn’t even talk to the original ladies, as there is different perspectives – she is working on Mig Maq problems, the 4 ladies are organizing Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 and trying to work on nation building and sovereignty from Canada. AND the chiefs were reluctant in Treaty 4 and treaty 6 to go along. Unlike you, I have been travelling on my own dime to do teach ins in my community, meet with ALL the main players of INM and working groups in BC to help, not writing words to split up a cause that was started by people you do not personally “like”. Is that because you personally didn’t start this revolution on the coast when you as a warrior have been trying for years? The most resistance and hatred being spewed towards the first women and men who analyzed Harper’s tactics a la “the Art of War” have not changed their focus – to educate and do teach -ins for First Nations people on the 14 Bills eradicting ALL OF OUR ABORIGINAL RIGHTS AND TITLE. what they ask is for people to go home to their nations and work on sovereignty. I can’t believe you missed the whole point. You want the real story of the blockade snaffu – the 4 ladies ARE NOT OPPOSED TO BLOCKADES. There was a fake Theresa Spence on Facebook that was trying to insight violence and they were asked to go against that one particular call -out and instance. They are for any grass roots doing what they need to do for sovereignty – they are NOT in Ottawa and skipped going there during AFN meetings because working at home on the ground is more important! Pamela does not want to be AFN chief at this moment ( wtf would?). And some of 630 nations being affected by these bills do have oil and some like mining – yes, Nations are all different – but most on board with INM DO NOT. The most resistance to INM i hear from is old “warrior” activist men on the coast that do not like that 4 women started something THEY THEMSELVES ARE BUTT HURT THEY CANNOT LEAD. i really hope your not one of those, but o far you have proven not to do very much accurate research and a hell of lot of finger pointing. Sad for you, as usual. Go home – hold your women leaders up high – it’s time for the matriarchs to lead while all the men butt heads and stroke egos.

    • Thanks for your judgmental and narrow interpretation of my motivations. You have no idea of what you’re talking about, as your rambling analysis of INM and their relationship with the chiefs demonstrates. As this article sets out, some of the chiefs who were integral to the launching of INM are deeply involved in the oil industry (i.e, chief Fox). You claim Palmater is not interested in being national chief of the AFN, “at this time.” Perhaps that’s because she lost in her effort to be the national chief at the last AFN elections. Revolution? Do you even know what the word means? If you think INM was a revolutionary movement then you clearly know nothing about what constitutes genuine resistance, and (like the INM founders) perhaps you shouldn’t front like you’re actually involved in such a movement.

  23. PS your articles are being used by Michelle Tittler, End race base law, Assembly of Second Nations, Confederation of Canadian Tax Payers to show as proof that Idle No More and First Nations are power hungry and corrupt and divided. My uncle always taught me to be careful what you say and represent to Kumshewa and outsiders as it will be used against us – like your articles are being used. sucks for you.

    • So we should all keep silent and not communicate any critical analysis and just be cheerleaders? I guess band members who protest and even occupy their band offices against corruption etc shouldn’t do anything either otherwise the taxpayers federation will use their actions as well eh?

  24. Hereditary Chief Kahkakew Yawassanay

    Being from a FN near Onion LK that has equally if not a larger oil and gas development, investment and returns. I am familair with Wally Fox and his versized ego. Th e days of promiscuity and domestic violence have become days of bragging about traditional gifts, having triple and quadruple incomes (if not more) from his self righteous parenting workshops which is stolen from the lips of deceased elders in our region to the embarassing selfish act of attempting. To storm parliament which ended in a whimper as he and another self proclaimed elder from Ermineskin band had doors shut in the faces…its no wonder these egos have cuddled up to those equally as narcissitic as nepinak the metis with a status card. Add in BC’s runt Atleo, Ernie Crey the whitemans token media source along with the arrogant and whiney Ed JohnKs, Stewart Phillips and Money sucking Art Manuel and one has to be amazed any business gets done…with Perry Bellegardes oversized and overhyped sense of self waiting with baited breathe on the outside it means the lil Indian will get nothing butmore disgusted. Is it any surprise that one of INM founder whose ego is equally as large and agressive is related to many of these elected fake chiefs through kinship and personal and professional ties…in the end they will all make sure their hands are greased(pardon the pun) and blame those in opposition for any shortcomings or failures that really only impact grassroots indigenous. All along they do nothing to deal with and resolve matters of importance like the unbelievably outrageous attempts to have metis be recognized as indians, extinguishing their gravy train the Indian act or any other number of hundreds of priorities in our communities and territories…they are the perfect example on how we as oppressed people have become masters of oppressing our own kind…well done Fake cheifs and associates, you are now our greatest enemies and liabilities

  25. Hereditary Chief Kahkakew Yawassanay

    The amount of corruption, misuse and abuse of authority within FN and their organizations is a silent plague on our nations. Having adopted and refined the oppressiove mentality, protocols and policies of colonialistic Canadia and American governments, our own people now stand as our greatest adversary…the epidemic of hypocrisy, double talk, politics and infighting would make the Mafia proud. There are too many elected/appointed counciloors at all levels responsible for our terrible state of affairs. It is a system rotten to its foundation, corrupt, biased and unethical that goes unchallenged because the vast majority of our people have accepted the conditioning of the elected system. That is a choice which easily could change to reinstate the inherent govrnance of the hereditary system. Until such a time the top of the pig trough aka AFN and provincial, tribal and regional elected groups will be overflowing with pot bellied fake chiefs gourging on the gravy train while they can , gicing lip service to keep up the image they are actually motivated to make changes. Even one of the main INM cofounders is far more interested in personal advancement, validation and recognition as a facilitator/presenter than the stepping aside for the promotion of the agendas and priorities of the grassroots….sooooooieeeee

  26. The gender issue, the patriarchal structure of the band council system, was imposed by colonialism. So too was the division of communities with middle-class elites such as lawyers, business managers and university professor, which the female “leadership” of INM are.

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