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He replaces George Manuel, who has been president for the National Indian Brotherhood for the past six years. Mr. Manuel expressed his desire to quit and continue organization of a World Council of indigenous people and to work on native problems in South America.
Speculation about the new leader of the National Indian Brotherhood continued right up until the nominations. Dave Couchein of Manitoba had been expected to run as well as Ray Jackson from the Yukon. However, when nominations were called, Dave Ahenakew nominated Noel Starblanket and the entire assembly sat silent during calls for further nominations. Beside his duties as Third Vice-President to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, Noel Starblanket has also served for the past year as the Director of Treaty Rights and Research for the FSI, previous to that he attended law school at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon campus for one year, and before that served as Chief of the Starblanket Reserve for three and one-half years.
He is described as a strong and independent thinker who stands strongly behind what he believes in. He is well known in the west, but is not well known in Quebec and in the Maritimes.
He told the Assembly, he is concerned that his acclamation will be construed as an indication of apathy within the Brotherhood. But he intended to prove that this is not true.
He promised to form a council of Elders to advise Indian leaders and said he would try to build a more effective lobby in Ottawa. The National Indian Brotherhood held their annual assembly in Whitehorse, Yukon, September 14, 15, and 16.