Arthur Manuel is spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET), former Chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, chairmen of the Interior Alliance and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.
I am familiar with this community and can tell you that the traditional land users have been working hard for the last 15-20 years to do excellent research to protect the ecological biodiversity of their traditional territory, which they continue to use. They have taken special measures to negotiate with the federal and provincial government to implement their plans. That is what is at the bottom of this struggle. It is between people who are playing "Rez Politics" on DIA programs and the elected system and those who are interested in pushing their "Traditional Territory Politics" with the federal and provincial government. DIA and the province like Indigenous Peoples to focus on Rez Politics so they can have exclusive use of Territorial Lands. Limiting our views to Rez Politics is exactly what the Indian Reserve System was set up to do. This is true in this struggle, and it is also true here in British Columbia.
One thing I would like to say is that the traditional system and the Elders who speak the language and practice their culture have real strong research on their traditional land use. I would say they have the highest level of this kind of research in North America. I say this with a lot of experience traveling and seeing other places, so my support here is real. I know that out of all the tribes there is no group in a better position to defend their traditional land use values, knowledge and activities than this group of peoples. I say this so people do not get lost in the Rez Politics and miss out on the bigger picture that is driving this situation. It is an ugly mess because the federal and provincial governments do not want to give up the mutual exclusive powers they have been exercising over these people's lands. The federal and provincial governments do not want to include these indigenous peoples in decision-making regarding their traditional territories. They prefer they fight amongst themselves for DIA Programs and Services.
Look at the substance. I know that where DIA (money) and the SQ (police) give their support should set off bells. Give the traditional peoples your support.