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George Manuel of Ottawa, president of the National Indian Brotherhood, told the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians annual general assembly that Indian Affairs Minister Chretien is a good man but his civil service bureaucracy is not worth a damn.
"As long as Indians are poor, there will always be jobs for civil servants," Mr. Manuel said.
Two-thirds of the $27 million allotted so far for economic development projects has been spent on Indian Affairs staff and offices. Indians have received only $9.3 million.
"As long as we don't exert ourselves, with force we won't get anywhere.
I'm not saying Canada owes us a living. I am saying Canada owes us a right for an opportunity to make a living, which we haven't had in the past, he said.
The Canadian public is often led to believe that the Indian people are well taken care of. But it is the civil service commission that is well taken care of, with taxpayers' money, Mr. Manuel said.
With the setting up of a $50 million economic development loans fund in 1970, Indians were led to believe they could become involved in business and get out of the pick and shovel existence. But Indians have seen only one-fifth of the money ... How in the hell will we become economically independent if this is the way we are to be treated, he asked.
From now on Indians will have to play to win, not to lose, he told the delegates, urging them to provide action oriented "support as well as moral support for their leaders.
"Quite often leaders are given the responsibility of carrying out instructions in, resolutions. It is not sufficient to just give moral support.
There has to be action with it. . a moral resolution has no meaning unless it has teeth," he said.
The national leader praised the guidance given by the provincial organization.
"I wish other Indians from other provinces would have the opportunity to see how well the leadership of the FSI has developed," he said.
About seven years ago, when he was Chief of his band, he did not even have say in running band council meetings. Until recently, Indians were still told they were not capable of handling their own affairs.
"The FSI is competent of handling more than its $2 million budget ... yet it is still told it is too early for it to handle funds. There is a big struggle to persuade the Canadian public what the FSI is doing and a struggle to persuade the government of its commitments.
There is a handicap in not being white. But the government and churches can take blame in leading us to believe we were not competent in handling our own affairs.
"We have been competent with a strong culture and a strong political organization for hundreds of years. Our biggest handicap was believing what we were told."
". . . And this took place in those damn schools. The only reason I'm successful is that I didn't go to that damn school," he said. Mr. Manuel left school after Grade 2.
Indians must learn to fight like the Germans, Japanese and Jews to pick themselves up and become strong contributors to Canada, he said.