The inherent right to self-determination

by Kahehtiio Wyte Lyze


“One of the things I’ve been relaying to governments is that you have to give us the right to govern ourselves, the right to take care of ourselves,” he said. “We’re peoples that took care of ourselves for many, many centuries, and I think it’s time to look at the governance of our people.”

– Ron Michel, chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council

We have an inherent right and ability to carry ourselves.

Indian Act Band-Councillors and Administrators require permission from the Canadian Federal Government because they are federal employees who are subject to the paternal dictates of the Indian Act and its rules and regulations.

Onkwehón:we never surrendered or relinquished our inherent right to exercise self-determination, but the influence and interference of the church, the imposition of residential schools and the Indian act system has without a doubt stifled its expression.

Crown Indian Agents sought to do away with our clan decision-making formulas and distinct world view (Kaianerehkó:wa- the great nice) because it threatened their control and domination over every aspect of the natural world, including our very being.

It would seem today that our biggest hurdle is to overcome our collective disempowerment and our sustained acquiescence to the presence and imposition of colonial social constructs i.e Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments & Indian Act Chief and Council system, that continue to violate our original instructions.

We have been dispossessed from our lands/hunting grounds and waterways/modes of transportation due to the unbridled encroachment of settler-colonial industry, infrastructure and rural and urban development, contaminating everything in its path.

Our lack of understanding and or confidence in our original instructions, to live in balance with the natural world, which includes understanding how to live in peaceful co-existence with one another, I reason is what needs to be closely examined, as it makes up the very foundation and fabric of our identity as Onkwehón:we.

Our teachings enable our ancestors to reach out across space and time, to speak to us. Seeking to understand their wisdom is a most rewarding journey, both emotionally and intellectually.

To bring our teachings forward to combat the onslaught of colonization and to bring about a renewal of our ways and identity is a most honourable, ambitious and crucial responsibility. This task will require active participation by all to guarantee a successful and smooth transition back to Kaianerehkó:wa.

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