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Ahenakew Warns Of Attempts To Shift Services

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 17 1975      v05 n18 p02  
Saskatoon - "Indian bands in the province must demand a single-agency approach through the federal Indian Affairs department if we are to prevent further erosion of our Treaty Rights," said Dave Ahenakew, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians (FSI).

Speaking to the 17th Annual General Assembly of the FSI, Chief Ahenakew told the delegates "a single agency will coordinate and deliver all services we are entitled to, eliminating the fears and confusion of who is responsible for what and will clearly spell out the role of our Treaties and compels them to carry out that role."

"The single agency must be constructive, geared towards building, not destroying people, and create self-reliance not dependency," he said.

Chief Ahenakew warned the delegates of the dangers of incorporation and education agreements, can have on our Treaty rights.

"The objective of the department is to bring band councils into municipal government under the provincial system," he said.

"Incorporation will mean you can get loans and grants for education, roads, economic development, and for many other things, just like any other municipality in the province," Chief Ahenakew stated.

"But this also means taxes and the application of provincial laws on our lands," he said. "It means putting Indian lands up for collateral on loans. Above all, it means we have opened the doors for Indian Affairs to eliminate its responsibilities to us."

"The department does not wish to recognize Indian band councils as legal entities in order to force incorporation," he said.

Chief Ahenakew said recent attempts of the manpower program to implement adult education on the reserve is another attempt of Indian Affairs to shift their responsibility to another department.

The department now has only $400,000 to spend on adult education, a drop from $1 million last year. The critical issue faced by the bands is that 20,000 Saskatchewan Indian people are on welfare and the money for training programs is badly needed, he continued.

Chief Ahenakew strongly urged the Chiefs to refrain from arguing any kind of adult education agreements.

Such restraint, he said may cause the banns hardships for the short term, but our long-term goals "are so close at hand I can feel them and taste them."

If bands refrain now from signing these agreements, the Cultural College will soon become a part of the community college system and serve Saskatchewan reserves.

The college will then be able to provide adult education courses under Indian direction and control, Chief Ahenakew said.

"If we are to protect our Treaty rights to education and if we are to bring about the single-agency concept, then you as Chiefs and councils hold off on reserve adult education classes offered by manpower for the time being," he said.

"And we must remind the province not to share or take responsibility for us. Nor in any area that is a Treaty right," Chief Ahenakew said.

Chief David Ahenakew