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Now that Indian people have begun to more fully assume the responsibilities previously managed by the federal department of Indian Affairs, they have come to realize that the appropriate machinery to complete this involvement and proper administration is lacking. In order to meet deadlines set by N.I.B. for a first draft of proposed revisions to the Indian Act, however, the F.S.I. must be prepared within six months.
A time table has been worked out that would accomplish this in a series of stages.
The Federation has assumed that consultation with the Bands will be the guts of any process for revision of the Indian Act and is of primary importance. It also believes that the process of revising the Indian Act will be essentially political and that technical inputs such as legal advice and research will play a secondary role.
In addition the Federation believes that any plan to revise the Indian Act must invite province-wide participation and must allow, at least initially, for broadly based community participation and consultation, working from there to a more structured and top-level deliberation.
The Federation is also committed to providing on an adequate basis whatever technical and support services are offered by the bands.
The initial stage in the revision process will involve an information program to acquaint Saskatchewan Indians with all aspects of the proposed revision and the issues they will be expected to deal with.
Then will follow the formulation of guidelines, both general and specific for the revision of the Indian Act and then the preparation of a Draft Act and Regulations.
The draft revision of the Indian Act will be submitted for formal approval at the Annual Conference in August.
An Executive Committee on the Indian Act has been set up to initiate the information program, establish policy guidelines and to approve plans. The committee is made up of David Ahenakew, Peter Dubois, Alex Kennedy, Cy Standing, Walter Gordon and Sol Sanderson.
The assistant director of the F.S.I.'s Right and Treaty Research Division, Noel Starblanket, has been appointed the project's co-ordinator.
A community organizer group will also be established, comprising about 24 people experienced in community work, who will assist in stimulating community discussion of the act, organizing meetings and funneling information to the bands as required.
A support services group will be formed within the Rights and Treaties Research Division responsible for obtaining legal service and consultants and for preparing information kits.
The revision process formally began early this month when a Community Organizer Workshop was held in Regina. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together community workers, explain the task and plan and to discuss the Indian Act.
Until May 27 there will be an on-going field work program to encourage discussion of the revision by the individual bands. Executive Committee members will visit the bands and support services will be provided as required. In addition a number of information kits will be prepared.
From May 28 until May 31 six district workshops will be held. They will be open meetings attended by Chiefs, councillors and other interested persons. The purpose of the meetings will be to provide a full discussion of the revision at the district level and to compare emphasis and differing points of view. Proceeds of the workshops will be noted for further legal and political analysis. Delegates will be elected at each of the workshops to attend District conferences.
Between June 25 and 30 six district conferences will be held with perhaps two delegates from each band. The conference will discuss and ratify a draft set of revisions to the Indian Act.
The period from July 1 to July 31 will be spent in consideration of the guidelines established by the district workshops and plan for the revision will be prepared.
From August 1 to 27 a draft of the revised Indian Act will be prepared for discussion and approval at the Annual Conference.
Saskatchewan's plan for a revised Indian Act will thus be ready for presentation to N.I.B. in September.
"In 1960, 15 per cent of registered Indians lived off reserves, by 1970, 35.5 per cent did so."