Tuesday, March 31, 2015

AFN Grand Chief Changes the Game: Says "Its now or nothing, Neechies!"

AFN Grand Chief Perry Bellegrade is not happy with the Status Quo. He wants to change the dynamics of Government Indian relations. Effective this morning Chief Bellegrade has changed title of Assembly of First Nations. The new name will result in a new identity and a re-branding of its work plans.

No longer will the AFN use a title that is not in tune with the Indigenous peoples of the Land. No longer will Perry call himself big boss aka Grand Chief. Nope Perry has decided to go with a name that represents both the poor Indian and the rich Indian, the male Indian and the female Indian, the young Indian and the old Indian; a new name befitting him. He and the Chiefs of Canada are looking at the turning tide of public opinion on Indians. They know that the government and the main stream public have managed to influence our identity as Indigenous folk in Canada. So from now on, Assembly of First Nations is going to be IAC-Indians Are Coming. It is meant to change the efforts of First Nations to be more focused and more in tune with the dynamics of the country. The country has changed course (or maintained a course) of going to the extreme and unreasonable right wing way of thinking and doing business. AFN had enough of the cuts and the attacks Canada have made on the Indian population of Canada. The title "Indian" being chosen as a reference to the historical roots of the people of the land, and a satirical title to ensure that the public knows that the true people of the land are still here. And the old rallying cry of the Indians Are Coming, to shine the light on the prejudice thoughts that prevail in this country. For many years in the media the battle cry for White folk has been the "Indians are coming".  In the entertainment media and the news media, Native people were made to look as the fool, the screaming Indian attacking on their saddle-less horse wearing only a loin clothe and carrying a spear, bearing down on a poor crying and screaming White woman, only to be shot deat at the last second by a couragous cowboy or soilder.  The new title will also work as a rallying cry to the divisive dysfunctionality that plagues our people. Letting them know that they serve a purpose in this new entity. That is not just about Chiefs and their honorariums but now about the people and the battle that is about to be waged.

In addition Perry and the Chiefs have done away the Grand Chief title and are going with the new title of General. The regional Grand Chiefs like that of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs will also start to change their constitutions to reflect the change in direciton. They will be Generals as well, but single star Generals. Perry will be IAC's Four Star General. The General title is to highlight the historic relationship with government. The departments that dealt with Indians were of the military and police portions of government. In each community the Chiefs will keep the title of Chief but many will also refer to themselves as Govenor when dealing with outside representatives of Canada, ie. bureaucrats, dignitaries. Govenor as to represent the significance of the once relationships with Kings and Queens of England.

IAC will change its structural mechanics. The regional Vice-Grand Chiefs will be done away with immediately. In its place will be the Head-Woman. The Head-Woman will be chosen by the Women of the communities in each province. The IAC knows that the strength is from the Woman. So regardless of who the General is; man or Woman, there will always be strong Woman voices in the new organization. Head-Woman is a homage to the Headman days of the Buffalo hunt in the Praries. Known for cunning, leadership and for foresight, the title is fitting for our Women.

A full list of Head-Women will be made available at the National Gathering. Contact regional Generals for more information.

Watch out Canada the Indians Are Coming.
Indian General

Cindy Gladue Case: Sick decision: No justice.

Cindy Gladue Case: Sick decision: No justice.

 Many of us have never heard of Cindy. Well Cindy should be on our minds and should be talked about by everyone, not just Indigenous folk. This is a story that you can't understand how it turned out this way. What the fuck happened to those jury members?  I really think there is a mindset out there that is part of the whole problem with Canada (and the U.S.). The problem is that people don't think Indians are Human Beings. That's right, not human. The main stream (government, church, media, business, bureaucracy, justice, public) all perpetuate a view/feeling that Indians are not worthy of life. They feel that we are a people that have been gone for some time now. The people (Indians) that remain are just the remants of a life that has expired years ago and these people need to move on and become something else. Not Canadians or U.S. people of course because that is reserved for the White population. That is the message that new comers to the country are sold. And that is why many new comers are not friendly or sympathetic to Indians. They (newcomers-recent immigrant; because all people except Indians are immigrants) fully believe the lies that have been told about Indians; we are living off the good will of tax payers and need to abandon who we are. 
This jury is just a small indicator of what the whole country thinks. It is not a surprise to Indian folk (although still reprehensible) that the man Bradley Barton, got to home free and clear. It is in the DNA of Canada and the Canadian. They cannot believe that Indians exist so if they don't exist how can anyone do any harm to them?  So, Bradley Barton didn't do anything because that Woman didn't exist. Understand?

The ugly thing is how the justice system handled Cindy, not only in the case but how they mutilated her body. She was mutilated twice, first by Bradley Barton and again by the Medical Examiner - Prosecution and defense lawyer. 

If you are not ashamed of Canada and the way they are, you damn well should be.  

Cindy Gladue Case: Not Guilty Verdict Ignites Outrage, Protests (GRAPHIC)
The Huffington Post Alberta  |  By Andree Lau

WARNING: This story contains graphic details. The following information about violence may be triggering to survivors.
The circumstances of Cindy Gladue's last hours were horrific. The mother of two bled to death in a motel bathtub, suffering from an 11-centimetre vaginal wound.
And the trial of the man accused of killing her was no less appalling, say aboriginal activists.
Earlier this month, an Edmonton jury found Ontario trucker Bradley Barton not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Gladue, a First Nations woman.
Outrage over the verdict has spurred a letter-writing campaign, asking the Crown to initiate an appeal. An online petition is also collecting support for another trial. Protests across Canada are planned this week.
Barton, 46, testified at his month-long trial that Gladue's injury was accidentally caused by rough sex when he thrust his fingers into her, reported the Edmonton Journal.
The Crown argued that Gladue — whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit — could not have have agreed to sex, and that Barton intentionally stabbed the sex trade worker, reported The Globe and Mail.
Alberta's chief medical examiner brought Gladue's preserved vagina into court as evidence, arguing that the jury needed to understand the nature of the wound. It was the first time part of a body has been presented as evidence at a Canadian trial, reported CBC News.
"Whatever you decide, this is not an accident," Crown prosecutor Carrie-Ann Downey told the jury.
Protest signs call for justice for Cindy Gladue.
The jury of nine men and two women acquitted Barton of both first-degree murder and manslaughter on March 18.
"This is another example of the way aboriginal women in Canada are marginalized, erased, and denied justice," said Edmonton activist Fawn Lamouche in a news release.
After the decision, the Journal reported that Barton's laptop showed he visited pornography websites featuring "extreme penetration and torture." The evidence was not introduced at the trial after the judge ruled it wasn't obtained lawfully by investigators.
Protests for justice
Rallies are being organized in at least 14 Canadian cities on Thursday to protest the verdict. The events have the support of Amnesty International, Idle no More, and the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, said Lamouche.
Organizers point out that a 2014 RCMP report found 1,017 aboriginal women and girls were killed between 1980 and 2012, a homicide rate about 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.
The Edmonton acquittal just shows how violence against indigenous women is normalized, wrote scholar Sarah Hunt and activist Naomi Sayers in a column for The Globe and Mail. They also argued that bringing Gladue's pelvis into the courtroom was another dehumanization of aboriginal people.
One of Gladue's daughters wrote on Facebook this week: "I cannot believe it's been almost 4 years, I miss you so much and I wish you could be here to meet my beautiful baby."
Gladue's family are owed justice, say supporters.
"Where is the collective outrage?," wrote Julie Kaye, an assistant professor of sociology at the King’s University in Edmonton. "The Gladue family deserves an appeal. Indigenous women and women in sex industries deserve an appeal. Sex workers do not consent to blunt trauma and 11-centimetre tears and death. Cindy Gladue did not consent to violence."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

If Its All About You Than You're Doing It Wrong.

Today a meeting of concerned community members took place at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Thunderbird House is in deep trouble.  The people met to come up with ideas and a plan on what to do. Thunderbird House is a Spiritual community house that is open to everyone looking for help. It just has no funds to keep its doors open.  My idea is to try and sell it. 

A letter went out to many of the Native entities in Winnipeg and to Native leaders and Directors of agencies. It was plea to start networking, to start dialog, to start supporting each other. What do you think happened?

A few interested people came out.

There were some interested people there, but none of the Leaders and Directors of other Native agencies.
That's too bad. But it is indicative of what is wrong with Native people.This is a copy of the letter that went out (it was edited to change the mistakes and some words but essential this is it).

Booshoo Tansi,  Good Friends

We need your brain, your ideas, and your input as to the image and operation of Thunderbird House. The Thunderbird House has been around for 15 years now. It is a place which has faced many challenges and has endured turmoil.  Thunderbird House has evolved to house many people and many activities.  It is a constant support for people wanting to conduct Ceremony or to hold seminar events. However, there is misperception of the House and what it stands for or what is its use should be.

We are somewhat aware of the view a few people have regarding the House.  Some may view the House as political and caters to a select few.  It is not the case and here is where we need your help; we would like you to provide direction for the future.  To see what Thunderbird House actually is and what it could strive to be:  A place for our community.  A place the everyone is welcome and able to utilize. There are very good organizations in the immediate and surrounding area of the House.  The foundation of care from those entities is primarily Christianity.  We offer a Traditional house. Many of our clientele are people that follow or want to follow an Indigenous Traditional path.  It is the foundation of Traditional Teachings we want to adhere to.  We know that support is needed for all of us to grow and continue to serve the people. That is what we are here to try and do. By talking, by sharing, by getting together and embracing other ideas, views and assistance, we can be stronger.

The criticism we hear about Native people is that they do not support one another. We know the opposite is true. We know people in our community care for one another. It is one of the things we are counting on. We are counting on you to come to our House and provide direction, provide ideas on where we go from here.  So let’s be the people to “walk the talk” and be kind to each to other, to share, to respect and to believe in each other.  

Come out to this March 20, 2015 10:00am. We would love to share food with you and have a luncheon, but we are poor in terms of cash.  We will have tea and coffee. It will be the start of a strong Circle of Friends working for the people.  When you work for the people you are working for the Creator. Be one of those who make the Circle of Sharing, Caring, Kindness and Belief work. Please contact us to let us know who you will be bringing.  

The people that came out to meet with the folks of Thunderbird House had a lot to say. Much of them talked about the impact Thunderbird House had on people and of its history and its intent. Some came to say much more. Many people wondered out loud why can't we support each other like other people do? Many were talking about ways to gain funds and support for the house.

In any case I was there for a while. I had two of my grandkids with me. Another Woman had her son there with her as well. My friend commented on that and said this: "It's whats good about Indians and gatherings; they have their kids all around. Other people don't have that. It might not be acceptable in some settings". 
Kids are a big part of our community. 

This is what I think:  I think we are getting to be pretty sad. In some cases pretty phoney. In some cases pretty ugly. In some cases just apathetic over what is going on. In some cases we only care about our little islands. In some cases we are only interested in protecting and maintaing our little kingdoms or queendoms or empires. In some cases it's this: why should I be interested in Thunderbird House, "I don't go there?" 

That is true many people of means don't use the Thunderbird House. Many people that can't afford to use it go there as well. The thing is this: those are your people there. Those are your people that don't have access to go to Sundance or Sweatlodge out in the country. Those are your people that just need a place to go and smudge have a cup of coffee. Those are your people that use the building to hold Wake Ceremonies for their families. That's it, Those Are Your People. It is all about your people.

If its all about you than you're doing it wrong

Being a Traditional Indian or compassionate Indian, I mean. 

 I like the idea that we can support each other. Just need to see it in action as oppose to an idea. 

The other night I listened to former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson do a speach on "UBuntu". 

From South Africa, a concept of reciprocity: that living in society demands that we take care of each other - that as it goes for one, so it goes for all of us. Ubuntu, reciprocity, is a statement of family cohesion and coherence that accommodates all living things. It also implies our connectedness - that we truly exist as individuals only when we take responsibility for each other, and that this responsibility goes back to our earliest beginnings as well as deep into the future.

Now this is doing it right. 

That is exactly what the Native community use to embody; looking after each other and reciprocity.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shamattawa Four Suicides: A Good Opportunity for a Media Sound Bite.

Shamattawa is in the news today for some very sad and horrible events. Four young people have killed themselves.  The Reserve is north eastern Manitoba and it is isolated. Only way in is by Winter ice road or by plane.  The people speak their language and have a strong connection to the Land (still). There is a strong Christian influence on the people. Shamattawa is not unfamiliar with tragedy.  Just do an internet search and you will come across a number of news reports on the social ills and hard times that Shamattawa faces. You will also find the kind of nonsense by the bigotry of ignorance. People saying they are wasting tax payers dollars keeping Reserves and such. That's okay, one person's crisis is another person's fodder. 
Wab Kinew & Shamattaw youth 2013

The thing I am interested in is the frenzy a crisis brings out. It is an opportune time to get a message out. A good time to knock someone over the head with. A good time to get you seen in the news. A good time to show how good, concerned and informed you are. That is a good thing. Without crisis things would be mundane. The Chinese have a great curse; "may you live in interesting times". In the Native community there are indeed interesting times. We have been at the end of a saber for a long time now. Canada (and the U.S. Kitchi-Mokoman-Land of the Big Knife-sabre ) are in a battle with the Indigenous folk of the Land.

Shamattawa, Manitoba
All the Land grabbing, stealing, kid-napping, assimilation, extermination have all taken its toll on the scrappy Native. I say scrappy because they are still grooving; still dancing; still talking; still hunting, still fishing, still learning and still Living. Of course there are going to be hardships. You can't have suffered under all that colonial attacks without coming out a little unscathed. So you see that impact in the social ills facing Natives today.

Suicide is part of the package. It is part of the ordeal. It is part of the all that good stuff that happened to Natives at the hand of many (well intended or not); the Church, Prime Minister, English, French, military, media and the citizen. How do you overcome all that baggage? Well its a hard thing to answer. Some decide well that's enough, death is one answer.

What becomes of that death? Well in times like this, you get the media poking microphones at anyone and everyone. Chiefs come out and see the microphone and you know that old saying; "give and Indian a mike and you can't get it away from him(her)."  Same principle with government officials; give them a mike and well, "you just never know what you going to get". The media is a powerful tool that is good and bad. Good because it can bring to light the troubles people face and bad because it can also paint pictures ugly.

How can one take advantage of a situtation where people are dying? It happens everyday. Polticians need platforms and if someone dies? Great, lets stand on their corpse and yell to the heavens about it. Don't get me wrong, we need to shout and to shout loud about the ills of society; the pain that affects our communities.
Suicide in Aboriginal communities is nothing short of crazy, insane, out of control. If the percentages of suicides that occur in Aboriginal communities occured in the main stream population, the country would be crazy, insane. You would have people in the streets; shouting from roof tops; politicians would be in lock down; and hockey games would be cancelled. That is how panicked and upset Canadians (and Americans, well White America) would be.  However... its just those damn Indians... again (sigh).  So who is going to yell from the roof tops?

Our Grand leaders are going to do it!  The Grand Chief of Manitoba's North; the Grand Chief of Manitoba, the Grand Chief  of the South are the saviours.  We do need their voices. However... why is it that their voice only sound when the issue is in the media? Why are they not persistently adding voice to the suicide deaths consistently?  I mean suicide has been problematic for a heck of a long time in the Native community. This recent crisis in the media is a repeat episode from many Aboriginal communities, aka Indian Reserves.

Why are our voices not heard or our ears not opened to prior to some suicide?  Why must it be a few seconds, moment of air time in a news segment? How come the answers lie with blame of others?  Of course it's complicated. Of course there are no quick fixes. Of course it only matters when a suicide is personal to you. Of course it only matters if it gets in the media.

It should matter all the time and to everyone. 
Native Child Poverty Canada
You know there are people that are fighting to keep alive everyday. They just don't get the media attention like politician do. But their work and their voice is no less important. Look at people who do Native Ceremony; they are battling our demons.  Many an Elder is working towards the health of the young. Look at a guy like David Blacksmith. He goes to Native communities and gets people talking about suicide and suicide prevention. His method is to get the youth involved in Native Traditions; like the Sundance.
Sundance sacrifice

For us, we have tried to get groups and communities involved in Talking about suicide, prevention and loss.

We held gatherings with small audience. None of those ears where leaders. Only those affected by suicide.

Shamattaw Youth 2013. A
Maybe the ears will be many and for longer periods this time. We are losing so many young Native voices. All over Canada and United States.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

For Sale! Thunderbird House For Sale! For One Dollar

Thunderbird House was in the news recently talking about its financial struggles. Its not a situation that is good for the Thunderbird House and of course Indian people in Winnipeg. Thunderbird House is a good place with good intentions.  Unfortunately it just does not get the support to keep the doors open.
Thunderbird House is just beautiful in its design and in its purpose.  Built and designed on Traditionals aspect of Native Spirituality by Architect Douglas Cardinal.  The Building has the structure of a Sundance Lodge with each of the Directions incorporated into the House.

Thunderbird House is located on the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg Manitoba. The area had been a very rough part of the City.

Six of the ten of the seedy hotel bars that existed on the Main Street strip in the mid-’70s are now gone, but the old skid row problems are still there, and more visible than ever. Decades of publicly-led urban renewal acting as socioeconomic revanchism has not pushed the problems of deeply entrenched poverty away; it has spread them around, across all of Winnipeg’s sprawling downtown. 

Thunderbird House is struggling that is for sure. The House recieves no operating monies and relies on proposal driven grant projects (which are few and far between). Rentals are its only stream of revenue to offset costs of operation - staffing, hydro, telephone, water, insurance, mortgage, internet, stock, maintenance.

Despite the heroic efforts of the Director and the Board to keep Thunderbird House doors open, its Crunch time. The operational director can only do so much. The Board just doesn't have the political clout to get an audience with the City or the Province.  No one is coming to the Thunderbird Table and saying "let's make it work".

If I was advising the Board I would consider putting Thunderbird House up for sale. It is of course a two million dollar asset ($2,000,000).  It has a mortage much less than the value. So either sell it or lose it I say.
Of course I am not an advisor to the Board of Thunderbird House. I am just a no one talking for nothing. I have about as much influence as you in saying "we should sell the Public Safety Building in Winnipeg". I mean its an eye sore and it may be crumbling, I don't know?  In any case I have no right to say anything. I could say lets sell the Assiniboine Zoo or the Assiniboine Downs, but what the heck do I know or have to do with anything?

The Thunderbird House should be sold for One Dollar. Yes, One Dollar. Sold to an entity or groups that will keep it alive and keep it as a home for those that seek Native Spiritual and Ceremonial activity. There is no money in Spirituality (unless you are a Church, just kidding, but seriously) to be made. That is one of the limits of the Thuderbird House, it is not a money maker. 

Just like anyone I have an opinion that is uninformed. I think a number of Reserves should get together and purchase the Thunderbird House. Develop some programs for the members who live in the City of Winnipeg. After all Winnipeg has the largest number of Indians residing there. The City really hasn't done anything to work with the Aboriginal population in Winnipeg.

So the Reserves can use that building to keep on working with strengthening the idenity and Spirituality of their people. It might be an idea to think about. Reserves like Peguis, Long Plain, Swan Lake, Cross Lake, Nelson House, Rosseau River, Sagkeeng, Little Black River, Rolling River, etc. Imagine what they could accomplish.

So if Thunderbird House is not for sale, let's get the City and Province to get in there and talk about how it can help it operate and serve the largest Aboriginal population in a Canadian city. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

1491's and Indian Comedy - Indian Talent.



"The 1491s is a sketch comedy group, based in the wooded ghettos of Minnesota and buffalo grass of Oklahoma. They are a gaggle of Indians chock full of cynicism and splashed with a good dose of indigeneous satire. They coined the term All My Relations, and are still waiting for the royalties. They were at the Custer’s Last Stand. They mooned Chris Columbus when he landed. They invented bubble gum. The 1491s teach young women how to be strong. And… teach young men how to seduce these strong women"

 I first discovered these guys on youtube. They did a number of Represent videos and some comedy sketches.
There seems to be lots of them (videos and Indians). I went to check out their blog and of course like Indians, it was not working. JEEEEZZE just kiddin'.   No but seriously, it looks like they did half fast type of website. Anyway the videos they do on youtube are pretty good. The Women they manage to get in taking part of their stuff are of course beautiful and talented (and not using talented like in "boy, she is talented, wink wink push push", but really talented in honest and true for sure).  Don't know how they get these women to take part? These guys are dog ass funny looking. You know like those big dogs with no hair on their bums, you know the kind.

We need more stuff like these guys put out.
I saw young Indian women too on the youtube that are doing comedy. Really good stuff. The kind that makes you laugh. "Heyyukyuk",  like that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Is this a sign? A sign of Racism? Or of pride?

Proud Soldier or Proud Racist?

A few years ago I saw a truck in Montana that had a similar slogan on the back of their truck, only it was aimed at Obama and "Obama-Care".  I took a picture of it as well. This truck was in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.  I wanted my friend sitting next to me to give this guy the finger, but that would be juvenile. In addtion his little blue bumper sticker said something about guns and well, its not the states but you never know about people. He was a soilder after all, or else he would not have been given a veteran plate.

If you can't read the signage it states:  "If you can read this in English, Thank a soldier.If you cannot read this in English, or will not speak English, get out of the country.  I am Canadian and proud of it."
The little blue bumper sticker reads: "guns have two enemies - rust and politicians".

So a number of things came to mind when I was behind this truck this morning. First one, "holy shit, what a dirt bag".  Second one, "Who is this guy?"  My friend sitting in the truck beside me said "takes a lot of guts to put that out in the open.".

I think it takes a lot of hate to put it out there. So much hate that you don't think anyone else matters. This is racism if you didn't already know. What does it say about the French, the Hindu, the Spanish, the German, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Romanians, and of course the Indigenous folk?
America; you got to love it.

So you don't think this is racist?

Let's see. He assumes that everyone should be White, afterall isn't English a perdominately White spoken tongue?  What does he think Canada is made up of, just for English speaking people?  Sure English is the spoken 'trade' language but Chinese has the most speakers. There are even more people speaking Spanish as a first language then English.  I wonder where this guy wants the Cree and Inuit speakers to go?  I think there are something like 300 Indigenous languages in the U.S. and Canada.  Where do they go if they have to get out?

The American sign is tamer than the Canadian one, surprisingly.

Thank a soldier definetly, but not for being a racist.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Navigation of a New Sagkeeng.

Just a few of the issues facing our community:  Housing, school, culture, leadership election, north south, greed, good , children, adults, old people, welfare, community, long term, hydro, erosion, banning, police, support funerals, citizenship, best practice, comunities round table, communication for community,business support, dependency on Band, language loss, religion, land use, individualism versus collective.

Aaniin Indinawemaagan

Greetings Relations,

Fixing the Sagkeeng Problem:                           February 18, 2015

What is the problem with Sagkeeng? Is there one? Is it the Chief and Council? Is it the people?
Elections are coming up very soon and nominations are taking place this week.  Exciting times I would think. Elections are always exciting. Who is going to run and for what position? Who is going to nominate who and who is supporting who? All kinds of talks go on when it is election time. Everyone has an idea on who should be Chief and what should be done in the community. I have some ideas and opinions just like everyone else. I am taking the time to write them down and share with you. You may agree or you may think I am full of Moo. That’s cool. I get that. The messenger is also scrutinized as much as the message is; fair enough.

So where to start?

The easiest and best way to start with anything is to ask this question: “How will this benefit the community?” This should be the first question every person in the Band should ask before anything is decided.

Communication: Let’s start with what everyone seems to see and talk about, our Chief and Council (whoever it is going to be) and past practices.  It is essential, essential that Chief and Council communicate with the people. I don’t mean a Band meeting to announce what they did or a news letter to be used as tool at election time, but by talking to people. Letting them know what is going on.  How do they do that? Use the radio station and tell people what is going on, Where the Reserve is financially; Where the housing situation is at; what are plans of development and all that goes on. Use regular news letters to talk about the C & C’s activities (look at Peguis regular news good and bad). The social media is big now. Chief and Council have the means to communicate with people that way. The Web site of the Band is horrible. No way to contact anyone to give feedback. No way to communicate with Council or Administration. Build a Web site that the Reserve can be proud of. An excellent example of openness is Alderville First Nation web site. http://www.aldervillefirstnation.ca/ The web site is a window to your home community and our window is embarrassing.  That is an easy fix to one of the biggest concerns for the Reserve-communication.  Just tell people what is going on. No excuse for it, because there are so many options and avenues for passing information to the people. You should embrace the openness. It is an ally to the Chief and Council. One of the biggest assets to a strong community is the communication with people. Dictator countries filter communication.  That is not what being a community, a Native community should be about.

Leadership:  People are leery of who is in Council or who is in administration/management for the Band. That’s just the nature of any community. Who are our Leaders and managers?  That distrust is not helpful for the community. We have to believe our Leaders and Managers are there for the best interest of the WHOLE community. How do we gain back trust? First thing is to start with Administration. Make our workers accountable. Do regular assessments of their performance on the job. Do they arrive on time? Leave early? Miss any days for work? Do they adhere to confidentiality? Are they doing a good job? Do they return calls and inquiries in an appropriate time? Are they demonstrating good work citizenship behavior, do they have good work habits? Its starts at the main manager and all the way along the job trail of what should be good job behavior. They must know that all funds transferred to the Band are on the behalf of ALL the people so in that sense they work for the people. The people all should be respectful and understand the role they have as well. So really it is about doing the work and doing it well. Need to ensure that it is being done. If someone is not performing then time to let someone else do the job, simple.
The Chief and Council must know and conduct themselves as our Leaders and NOT managers. Don’t spend your time administering money to people.  That is your managers’ duties. Let them do that job. Chiefs-Councils have to know what Leadership is. I am sure that many do not know or have an idea of what that entails. I bet many wonder what they should do on a day to day basis. “Should I go into office today?” “What should I do there today?” Leaders have be looked at as leaders and not “fixers”. You are not there to fix the door of every band member. Nor are you there to give pamper money to someone who spent their money!  Ask yourself, if I come and ask you for $50 for gas money to get to Brandon hockey tournament, “how is that going to benefit the Reserve?”  If it is not a benefit for the Reserve, don’t give it out! That money is on Behalf of the Whole community and not as your personal fixer fund. Leaders have to have the will to say NO! To all these requests for financial aid/gifts/loans. Simple!  If you are having a hard time to say no, let people know what is going on. Every individual that approaches you for help from Band funds should be aware that is part of the public’s right to know. You let people know that I am at the Band office asking for money. Maybe it will curb my appetite for getting money from the Band. But if you want to lend or give me money from you OWN wallet, well that’s your decision. Money from the Band is on behalf of all members – On and Off Reserve. So go back to the communication fix and let people know. In Traditional Native Affairs, the affairs of the community are done in the open, not in secret like a church confessional.

Oath to Office:  Our Reserve lacks the protocols of Leadership acknowledgment.  We have no public record of our Chief and Council. We have no Oath from them that they will, in the eyes of Creator perform their duties as best as they can, with a good heart for the People. We need to have Ceremony of acknowledgment when a New Leadership is chosen. Why is this not a community event?  I would like to see the Leaders announce to everyone there that they are going to do the best for the people.  Like in an Ogichidaa initiation ceremony, you announce to the Creator, in front of witnesses that you are going to do right for the people. A simple thing but the meaning is significant. Maybe if this was done more, people would start treating and recognizing our Leaders as Leaders and not fixers to their wants.

The role of the Community/People:  The People in our community have a duty. A duty to their families and to our Home. That is to behave in a fashion that benefits the whole community. Because if the whole community is doing well, then our individual families are doing well. Simple as that. However, we have become less of a community and more of a group of individual pockets. All these pockets wanted only what is best for them. So with competing interests that doesn’t help the whole community. When you and I go and badger the Chief and Council for a house, for money, for repairs, how does that benefit the whole community?  It surely does not.  But everyone has been getting free stuff so I should as well. That is not a mindset of community needs but thinking of myself only. That must stop. How to stop it? Simple, no more free stuff. No more social housing/free house. No more money gifts, or loans from Band. No more by-passing the finance manager to go to a Councilor for money. People have lost their sense of identity. They have become less than the community and more about me, me, me. That is one of the biggest problems on Reserve.
“Oh, you don’t live on Reserve, so you don’t know.”  Where should people live? There are no houses, no jobs. So they have no choice but to look outside of the Reserve. Does that make them less of a Band member?  Of course not. That is selfish thinking and mindset that there is a divide between off and on Reserve. That was one of the policies of government and we are using it on our own people now. Or worse yet the divide of North and South.  It is the drive of selfishness that continues that debate of north and south. For what purpose? It is for personal gain, plain and simple. People say but the north side gets nothing. Perhaps there is truth to that complaint. So as a community, a whole community we should fix it. First make a community land use policy. As it is now, there is no open Band land in the Reserve, everyone has a claim on the open parcels. So bad in some cases where a road had a toll to use it? Not sure if that was true but you hear the stories. If there is open land for new development, maybe it would happen.
People have to stop saying “I never get anything from the Band.”  Do you see how ugly that is? Are we as a community so used to getting hand outs that it is now our battle cry? “I don’t get nothing from the Band.”  Do your kids go to school? Get on a school bus? Does any of your siblings/parents/children/grandchildren live in a Band house? Do you have running water? Do you have garbage pickup? All of these things are from the Band. And the Band is all of the people. So when the Band does these things, it is for All the Band, not just me or you. So that is the thing we need to stop. That attitude of wanting to get stuff from the Band. Do you know how much pressure we put on our Leader, our managers with our constant demands? How would you feel? If every single time you met one of the community members and they asked you for something?  Awful right?  Well that is the role of the community. To start acting like a community and to treat Leaders as Leaders. Ask yourself, ‘what do I want from a leader?’  Do I want at leader to give me stuff? To give stuff to others? Or do you want a leader to fight for your Rights as a Band member and a member of Treaty?
The Role of the community member is as and even more important than the Leader. Your Leader takes direction from you. If you want a leader that is going to be a fixer of minor financial woes, than that is what you will get. You want a leader that is going to be a leader and act on behave of the whole community, well you have to back them like that.

Housing, Education, employment, economy, fire department, policing, child family, social, religion, Elderly, Land use, Shoreline, public works:

The areas of concern are many.  Lot of areas for the community and the Chief and Council to address. It all starts with communication. Open the lines. Board appointments. Housing lists and repair lists. Get rid of free housing. People complain about mold in their house. Elders should be the exception for repairs. But most people should have responsibility of maintaining their homes. They call them “Band houses” and expect the band to look after that home for ever. None of the responsibility but having all the privilege of ownership. How does that benefit whole community? If people are not willing to look after a “Band house” then they should know that Band will give it to someone who will appreciate it and maintain it. Simple.

Start to ask for Elder input on the use of Land. Who had what, where and when. Get rid of all trivial land claims by greedy individuals. The Band belongs to all. If you want to own land go and purchase some out of the community. Simple. But don’t expect the Band to supply you with unlimited amount of Land. Where in the heck are the Children and Grandchildren, Great-Grandchild going to build? The people have to look at and understand the Intent of what the Old people wanted for the community. It was not about the individual. That is the greatest threat to Sagkeeng. Becoming an place of individuals as oppose to a community.  Ask yourself when did it change and how come it changed? 

I will not address all the issues now, but you see the intent behind this letter. It is to start discussion, to open dialog, and maybe get beyond the crisis of community splitting (figuratively and literally). Look at what used to work and what could work for the best interest of Sagkeeng.

Hey!  Sagkeeng Candidates and Sagkeeng Voters:
Consider this when you are at the polls.  And please share.
The Issues:
1.       Housing – Sagkeeng needs to do a true account of the housing situation and needs of the people, both on and off the Reserve. Do a survey of how many home owners are there, how many share in the house, how fit is the house, how old is the house, how was the house gotten, has the house been repaired, etc., how many houses are needed in the community. How many people outside of the Reserve are renters, how many people own a house?  It might be an idea to ask people if they would be interested in home ownership through purchase. Consider ending free housing. Have contracts for home owners to keep care of their home. Ask for ideas on the housing situation.
2.       Economic Development – Sagkeeng needs to network with the communities in the East Side of Lake Winnipeg. Meet ad hoc to start off with various people from each community to brain storm about business development in the area. How to increase traffic for business in each community. Look at the potential of traffic from Island Lake areas and the all weather road. What kind of industry can work in the area? Etc. It may be a good idea to start supporting more local entities and get rid of jealousy factor.  When the local gun store was targeted by the police and the courts, what action could or should have been taken by the Band to assist in the business?
3.       Funerals – Funerals are a big cost and getting bigger to the Band. Everyone has the right to choose their own Funeral Director and place of business. However, the Band should support local. If people want to choose someone outside of the Band, than that is their prerogative, but not a Right for the Band to pay for that choice. The Band should limit its support to local providers.
4.       Schools – The education system is in need of a review. Language and identity should be paramount in the schools. Discipline and strict adherence to respect; of school mates, teachers, property and rules. No more of sitting in the hallways and showing no regard for the school. Parents to be held accountable for the actions of their children. Make them sign contracts of conduct. Have more Cultural events and content in schools. The Harvest Week should be attended by more than the school children but by the community as well. Teachers to be treated with respect and they also conduct themselves in a professional manner-both in the way they present themselves and the way they teach. No free time in gym, shops etc. More Parent information and presentations. Start an active Teacher parent group.
5.       Information – This is vital to the community. No more secrets. Let everyone know about the activities of the Band. Is there a Band list for services? Have it posted. Have people been asking for loans and receiving them? Post it. Going for conference? Have whoever goes; make a presentation on what took place, the networking and how it will benefit the Band. Open up the communication. Let the community know of the abusers of the Band office, staff and leadership.
6.       Jobs – Have a review of performance. Start with a management round table of all the heads of various departments. See what their activities are, what they expect the year to be and where they see the department in the next few years. Measure performance.  How many clients/customers/patients seen in the last period (yearly, quarterly, monthly)? How has been their attendance? How is their attitude to the job? What is their conduct? Have the CEO be the eyes, ears, voice of the Band office.
7.       Band endeavors – What are the current projects of the Band? What are the benefits/costs and implications? What are outstanding issues/projects/lawsuits?
8.       Band Councilors/Chiefs – Do they have the skills to do the job? Do they know what the job is about? Are they there for a paycheck? Do they share information? Do they have adequate knowledge level, skill level to be a representative of all the people of Sagkeeng?
9.       Policing – Is there adequate policing for the community? Who over sees their conduct and performance?  How can it be better?
10.   Fire Department – Who is the oversight? What are the performance measures of doing a good job? How many recruits have been made? What is the daily routine of the fire department? What is the maintenance schedule for the trucks? How can we do better?
11.   Land – what is the current land use plan of Sagkeeng and its Traditional area?
12.   Hydro – new ideas or status quo?
13.   Traditional activities – Hunting fishing?  What is the current situation? Is there a need for future planning and conservation initiatives?
14.   Infrastructure – Schools, Buildings, Roads, water pipes, sewage system etc. What is the current situation? What are the plans for up keep and maintenance.
15.   Emergency – Who does the planning and what are the plans and for what type of emergencies?
16.   Recreation – What are the plans for recreation? Who is the main driving force behind kids activities? The Parents, the School, the Band? How can the community support the kids?
17.   Older Population – Who supports the Elderly beside the Care Home? What is the situation and what else needs to be done?
18.   Gaming  - need an open account of activities, expenditures and revenues and what is supported with monies from gaming.
19.   Health Centre – Needs to move secondary services from new building to old building and put primary services like the doctor offices/dental/nursing into the new building. Put support services in the older complex.  Wasn’t that purpose of health center anyway?
20.   Respect and Kindness – It should be our go to place when dealing with each other - Our first position, our default spot if you will. Sure everyone gets angry and that is normal. But we should start dialog with kindness first. Have healthy discussion rather than heated uncontrolled anger. The nomination meeting was an example of anger displaced. The anger was at the situation but was directed at an individual. Is that how we want our community to go forward?
Everyone has ideas; there should be a productive respectful and open way to convey those ideas. Emotions are hard to control and we are very emotionally invested because it is about our community, which means our lives and the lives of our relatives. So it is understandable to be upset at the situation and sometimes the players in the situation. Still it is our people. We can be a very strong and good place if we just start with that outlook. Nothing wrong in disagreement.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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