Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Terry Nelson letter to Warren White

Grand Chief of Treaty 3, Warren White

Grand Chief, please see the link to a Winnipeg Free Press article on the Southern Chiefs Organization recognition of Andrea Camp as the Hereditary Chief of Buffalo Point Ojibway Nation. SCO is 33 First Nations in southern Manitoba, 72,000 combined population, mostly Anishinabe, some Dakota and Cree. I write to you today to ask that Treaty 3 Anishinabe Nations consider recognizing the right of the people of Buffalo Point to democracy. By recognizing Andrea Camp the Hereditary Chief, they begin the road to democracy.


The government of Canada says that they will not interfere in the internal Governance of the Buffalo Point First Nation, that Canada recognizes the right of the people of Buffalo Point to govern themselves in a traditional system of Government. Treaty 3 is Anishinabe First Nations, the same tribal people as Buffalo Point. SCO is also primary Anishinabe, if anyone can judge whether Buffalo Point is governed according to Anishinabe tradition, it would be our two organizations, who are Anishinabe. Recognizing the right of the Anishinabe people of Buffalo Point to select Andrea Camp as the Hereditary Chief is our responsibility. when the Government of Canada refuses to correction the situation at Buffalo Point.

Andrea Camp's mandate once she is recognized as the Chief of Buffalo Point is to bring democracy to the people of Buffalo Point. She intends to carry out a clear and open election for Chief and council. Buffalo Point has not had an election for over 40 years. The time for our people stand up for the women of Buffalo Point is now. Perhaps Canada will not approve democracy for Buffalo Point but we should stand up for Human Rights.

In January 1999, Helen Cobiness and the people of Buffalo Point asked for American Indian Movement to help them. They brought tobacco to us as we were doing an Okiijida initiation ceremony in Winnipeg. Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt were in attendance at the ceremony. Dennis wanted to take the tobacco immediately and answer the elders request for assistance. Dennis wanted to stop the ceremonies and immediately go to Buffalo Point to physically oust the white Chief. I stopped Dennis. I asked for time to see if we could resolve the issue peacefully. Today, I regret my cowardice. We could have solved this issue 14 years ago, if I had not stopped the people who wanted to go to Buffalo Point and physically take the Chief for Life system out of the reserve.

In your website, it states:

Grand Chief Warren White

Ogichidaa Warren White, Grand Chief, Grand Council Treaty #3


Warren White was selected as Grand Chief or “Ogichidaa” of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 on May 30, 2012. The Grand Council Treaty #3 represents 28 First Nation communities in Ontario and Manitoba. Grand Chief White was formerly the Chief of Naotkamegwanning First Nation for 6.5 years, first elected in November, 2005 and a Councillor for two terms before 2005. Ogichidaa White is from the Pii’zhew (Lynx) clan and is a fluent speaker of Anishinaabemowin.

I am one of the spokesmen for Roseau River Anishinabe Okiijida, Vice Chair of the American Indian Movement and Grand Chief of Southern Chiefs Organization. my clan is also Lynx Clan. As a fluent speaker, you understand the terminology of the Ojibway language. My understanding of the term Okiijida, is " a person of big heart ", a person known for bravery. As Lynx Clan, sub clan of the Marten Clan, we hold responsibility for the Warrior Society, what you write as the Ogichidaa and what I spell as Okiijida. If anyone must stand up for Helen Cobiness, it is the Ogichidaa. I was at the funeral of Cindy Baptiste this past Saturday March 8, 2014. Cindy is Helen's daughter. Helen is 82 years old and she has cancer. She is not getting treated for her cancer, she accepts that she will die soon. Before she dies, she deserves to see democracy in her community.

It was Judge Rick Saul who ordered the injunction against the people of Buffalo Point. Judge Saul never heard from the people of Buffalo Point, the injunction was ordered Ex parte. In Canada, the right of indigenous people, the human right to democracy is not guaranteed. As you can see in the attached file the picture of Helen Cobiness being arrested by RCMP because she refused to obey the Judge Saul court order that prohibited her from attending her own tribal government office. These are not violence people, they are not criminals, yet these four women pleaded guilty and they will be sentenced in a Canadian court for the crime of wanting what all people in Canada see as a fundamental Human Right, the right to be able to vote for their leadership. For that "crime" of defying Judge Rick Saul, they face jail.

I was in Iran in 2012. Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemns Iran constantly for violating the rights of women. In Canada, there is a recently updated list of over 820 Murdered and Missing First Nations women. Prime Minister Harper refuses to call a Federal Inquiry into those Murdered and Missing Women The injustice faced by Helen Cobiness and the three other women who will be sentenced by a Canadian court is nothing new. In Manitoba, 71% of the inmates are First Nations people even though our population is less than 14% of the Manitoba population. For the women's jails in Manitoba, the percentage of women in jail who are indigenous women is nearly 100%. I do not expect any help from Canada to right the injustice faced by the women of Buffalo Point, but surely, we who are Anishinabe, the ones who hold the title of Ogichidaa, should stand up for our women. I still do not condone violence any more than I did in 1999 but I expect that we who are Anishinabe should at least recognize the right of our women to take their place as Chiefs and for our people to be able to hold elections for their leadership.

Thirty-two of the 33 Chiefs in SCO are selected through open elections. All but one of the chiefs that sits at SCO are elected. To have one Chief sitting there who not elected, is not right. The Chiefs themselves made the choice to oust Chief John Thunder from the SCO table of Chiefs but he would be welcomed back if he won a fair and open election for Chief in Buffalo Point. The idea that Canada respects traditional forms of government amongst First Nations is a lie, the Minister of Indian Affairs has overturned elections in many First Nations and has ordered elections in Hereditary systems in the past. Dakota Tipi had a Chief for Life system. The Minister ordered an election in Dakota Tipi, but refuses to do the same at Buffalo Point. The reason is very simple, white people have taken over in Buffalo Point reservation lands including Conservative Senator Don Plett whose wife owns a cottage in Buffalo Point.

In 1999, two of the three members of the Buffalo Point First Nation Chief and Council signed a Band Council Resolution ordering an Election in Buffalo Point. The Department of Indian Affairs ignored the legal document on the basis the only the Chief had the right to make decisions in Buffalo Point. The Government continues to recognize a dictatorship by financing the government of Buffalo Point, the one man Chief for Life system.

Grand Chief, I ask for your support for the Anishinabe of Buffalo Point. By copy of this email, there is over 500 who recieve this email to you and people all over the world including Iran will receive this information. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should answer the question of why he doesn't support democracy in Buffalo Point and why he would allow four women to be sentenced in a Manitoba court for simply wanting an election, a basis human right. Harper is always condemning some other countries for denying Human Rights but he does the exact same thing in Canada.

Perhaps the rights of Conservative Senator Don Plett to lounge on the porch of his cottage at Buffalo Point is more important than four women being sentenced for defying a Manitoba court order. The Federal Government of Canada can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help build another Jewish Human Rights center, (this time in Winnipeg) but the human rights of four Anishinabe women is not quite as important to the Prime Minister of Canada as Don Plett having a cottage at Buffalo Point.

SCO Grand Chief

Terrance Nelson

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