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TREATY

 

Great economic pressure is brought to bear on native people to force them to participate in the treaty process. However, many knowledgeable native leaders have grave misgivings about this ‘process’.

 

Basically the treaty process has had two separate components: one part requires the native people to voluntarily surrender all their Aboriginal Title, whereas the second part of the Government treaty process agrees to a cash settlement and other concessions.

Historically the government has always enforced the first part while seldom living up to the second part. Here in British Columbia even the nonā»native people are seeing their contacts with the government dishonored. If the government will not honour the agreements that were made with its own people who voted them in by a vast majority, how likely is it they will honour the agreements they make with the First Nations, whom they hate?

The government of British Columbia is not dealing with the Nuu–Chah–Nulth in good faith because, even as the negotiations are underway, logging companies continue to illegally clearcut the disputed land at an alarming rate with none of the revenue going to the bands, and oceans continue to be depleted and polluted; after receiving a formal protest against toxic fish farms being constructed withinNuu–Chah–Nulth territory, the government lifted the existing moratorium on the construction of fish farms, showing its total disregard for the environment and the native people.

In spite of a higher court’s acknowledgement of Aboriginal Title, federal and provincial laws continue to be enforced against native people, denying them access to their own resources, which they need in order to become self­ sufficient. In spite of these obstacles, Chief Walter Michael is committed to working with his band in exploring different ways for his people to earn a living.

 

What treaty that the whites have kept has the red man broken? Not one! What treaty that the white man ever made with us have they kept? Not one. – Sitting Bull

In the hour of his death in 1871, Tu–eka–kas, the father of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces, reminded his son never to sell the bones of his father.

Chief Joseph describes the death – "My father sent for me. I saw he was dying. I took his hand in mine. He said: ‘My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit. Chief, when I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more, and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.’ I pressed my father’s hand and told him I would protect his grave with my life. My father smiled and passed away to the spirit–land.

I buried him in that beautiful valley of winding waters. I love that land more than all the rest of the world. A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal."

 

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