KI chief to attend National Treaty Gathering
This picture was taken during the Lansdowne House Treaty Day celebration in 1954.
KI Chief Donny Morris is looking to learn more about a national treaty alliance concept at the upcoming Onion Lake National Treaty Gathering.
“I’m on a fact finding mission to see if the community would fit in, if it’s a viable option,” Morris said on July 10 about the July 14-18 gathering. “We like to toe our own line, but I know joining an organization that’s going to be seeing, speaking and doing things our way, I know I’m going to need that support.”
Morris wants to check out treaty issues during the gathering, which is being held in central Saskatchewan, near the Alberta border.
“My interest, obviously from the community perspective, is pursuing our treaty rights as signatory to the treaties,” Morris said. “I’m going there to see how and what this treaty alliance (is). If it’s going to be formed, I need to know firsthand what it is.”
Morris plans to bring information about the national treaty alliance concept back to his community for their input on whether or not to join.
“If they’re going to be pursuing treaty with the government, I can honestly say I am close to being in that position,” Morris said. “Our position, when we’re talking with them, is always treaty based.”
Onion Lake Chief Wallace Fox said the gathering is not being held in competition with the Assembly of First Nations’ 34th Annual General Assembly, which runs from July 16-18 in Whitehorse, Yukon.
“We wish to clarify that this is not an Onion Lake Cree Nation meeting, not a chief’s meeting, but rather a meeting where we will hear from the grassroots peoples, as so many times we see a chief top down system which has not worked for our peoples,” Fox said. “The grassroots peoples are the assembly, the voices that need to be heard.”
AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo also noted that he did not see the Onion Lake gathering as working in opposition to the AFN gathering.
“We respect and acknowledge that concurrently, as sometimes happens, there’s another meeting happening on the topic of treaties, but recognizing by and large we’re after the same or similar things and that we continue to look to the Elders for advice in how to continue to be effective in supporting our people,” Atleo told Wawatay.
The Onion Lake gathering includes presentations by Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Rarihokwats, a Mohawk citizen from Akwesasne, Fox, Perry Bellegarde, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and Vince Steinhauer, president of Blue Quills First Nations College as well as a visit by Senator Lillian Dyck, a Gordon First Nation band member.
Sunrise ceremonies, men’s and women’s sweats, a pipe stem ceremony and a traditional feast will also be held during the gathering.
A 10-day Treaty Dakota Awareness Ride on horseback is also scheduled to finish on July 14 at the gathering site.
The gathering is scheduled to be webcast through a link on the Onion Lake website, at www.onionlake.ca.
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