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Indians must fight to receive services and privileges by right, not on the basis of need, according to George Manuel, president of the National Indian Brotherhood.
Mr. Manuel, speaking to delegates Tuesday at the annual conference of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, said that the governments have interpreted: the treaties negatively.
It was the Indians, who interpreted the treaties positively, he said, and the real objective of Indians should be to unify to obtain their rights.
Calling for economic development on the reserves, Mr. Manuel said that when treaties provide assistance to Indian farmers, the treaties are dealing with economic development.
Economic development, he said, is what will really make the Indian people, allowing them to integrate with pride and dignity within their own terms as Indian people.
Pursuing economic development on a national level is one example of the need for a national organization such as the NIB, said Mr. Manuel, elected as president at the national body's convention in Vancouver in August.
To a larger degree, said Mr. Manuel, Indians must assume some responsibility for their own future and that this is what Indians were striving for.
But this does not mean that the government or Indian affairs should be let off the hook, he said.
The future of the Indian people lies with the Indian people, and others, like the Indian affairs department, should not be allowed to run Indian lives, said Mr. Manuel.
During his speech, Mr. Manuel occasionally referred for the need to support the NIB, made up of member organizations such as the FSI.
Only through organized efforts can Indians reach their objectives, he said to a standing ovation from the approximately 300 persons in attendance.