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Changes Sought In Indian Economic Development

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      NOVEMBER 1974      v06 n09 p14  
Saskatoon - The history of economic development for Indian people in Saskatchewan indicates planning and authority of programs has come from government agencies Changes should be made to allow Indian decision-making and participation in their own economic development programs," said Alec Kennedy, first vice-president of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, at the FSI's annual conference held recently.

Mr. Kennedy mentioned the energy shortage in North America. Water is soon to be a big resource and caution should be taken by Indian people when proposals and plans for energy development on Crown lands are developed. "According to the treaties, anything underneath the six-inch layer of land is to belong to the Indian people," he said.

"The Churchill River Study is one example in the manner in which government does not recognize the voice of Indian people," Mr. Kennedy said. "A change in the formal relationship of governments and Indian people is needed soon if the Indian can actively participate in the development of their lands."

Dr. C. M. Williams of the University of Saskatchewan spoke of the farmers problems and the situation which now faces Indian and non-Indian farmers alike. Dr. Williams gave some background information on the markets for grain and cattle and the decrease and increase of prices.

Dr. Williams offered some advice to beef producers. He said, "Older cattle should be sold as the price of feed is so high it is not economical to feed the older cattle throughout the winter. The light yearlings or younger animals should be kept and wintered." Dr. Williams felt the markets should level out and prices will once again make farming profitable sometime around 1976.

Some questions arose from the assembly. One person questioned the 1976 estimate and said the Indian farmers could not rely on guesses. Dr. Williams replied that the 1976 estimate was a projection date that was a carefully calculated and educated guess.

Peter Herbert, Indian Affairs Economic Development Program, spoke of the program and the situation on loans. "Almost all of the monies in the Economic Development Program have been lent out, guaranteed or used up. Indian Affairs had asked the Treasury Board for a 50 per cent increase as the present budget is only "peanuts", he told the delegates.

Questions came from the floor at to the present loans that many Indian farmers have taken and cannot meet payments for due to low market prices. Mr. Herbert suggested that all farmers who cannot meet payments come forward to Indian Affairs and new arrangements will be made for meeting payment deadlines.

Band economic training programs will be set up on reserves which apply. Basic funding for these will be $5,000 per band. Mr. Herbert said "consideration would be given to all who properly complete applications and meet requirements of funding." He was questioned as to whether or not four bands could jointly apply for funding and receive $20,000. Mr. Herbert said these type of applications would be acceptable.

The delegates expressed other concerns. Many felt the funding is very inadequate in view of rising costs for all types of equipment or facilities required.

Ray Ahenakew and Tony Cote
Ray Ahenakew, Director of Sports and Recreation, accepting two cheques, from Tony Cote on behalf of the Cote Band. Cote Ladies Club donated $500 and Cote Band donated $1,000 to the Bantam Hockey team.