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Indigenous Governance

Introduction

NCCIE has partnered with First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) to complete a project that began in 2009. FNUniv recognized the increasing interest amongst First Nations to re-learn and reintroduce traditional governance principles and practices in their communities and to teach these customs and laws to their youth.

Students at FNUniv followed traditional protocols to invite Elders and Knowledge Holders to participate in video interviews about Indigenous governance. Special gratitude is extended to the following Nêhiyawak (Cree), Anihšināpē (Saulteaux), and Dakhóta (Dakota) Elders and Knowledge Holders for sharing their knowledge so that future generations can learn from them:
  • Barry Ahenakew, Ahtahkakoop First Nation
  • Margaret Cote, Cote First Nation
  • AJ Felix, Standing Buffalo First Nation
  • Verma Goodfeather, Standing Buffalo First Nation
  • George Kanipitetew, Onion Lake Cree Nation
  • Dave Leswiss, Standing Buffalo First Nation
  • Francis McAdam, Big River First Nation
  • Juliette McAdam, Big River First Nation
  • Sylvia McAdam, Big River First Nation
  • Jimmy Myo, Moosomin First Nation
  • Charles Stevenson, Keeseekoose First Nation
After following protocols, Elders and Knowledge Holders were asked the following questions to discuss:
  • What was life like before treaty? How were your People organized and governed before Treaty?
    • How were leaders selected?
    • What were the roles of women?
  • What was life like after treaty? How did governance change after Treaty?
    • How did people used to make a living? And how has that changed?
    • How did women’s roles change?
    • How did men’s roles change?
  • What do you want to say to the youth who will become the next leaders?

Please Note: The knowledge shared in these interviews is grounded in the prairie cultures of Saskatchewan. Other First Peoples across Canada and around the world have their own distinct customs and laws. Some similarities may exist in foundational principles, which are connected to the Land and Creation. Visitors to this webpage can view these interviews to learn about the ways of life and governance for Indigenous peoples in the prairies before and after treaty. You are encouraged to seek Elders and Knowledge Holders in your own regions and to follow protocols to learn the specific customs and laws where you live.

In Gratitude

NCCIE and FNUniv are grateful to the many people who helped bring this project to light.

Project Lead
  • Jennifer S. Dockstator, NCCIE Project Director
FNUniv and JSGS Partners
  • Professor Richard Missens, FNUniv
  • Dr. Bettina Schneider, FNUniv
  • Dr. Bob Kayseas, FNUniv
  • Professor Shannon Avison, FNUniv
  • Dr. Ken Coates, JSGS
Language Speakers
Special gratitude is extended to the following individuals for their time and expertise translating, creating subtitles, and verifying time codes:
  • Elmer Ballantyne, Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree)
  • Lynn (Lorena) Cote, Anihšināpē (Saulteaux)
  • Dorothy Myo, Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree)
  • Darren Okemaysim, Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree)
  • Solomon Ratt, Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree)
  • Maureen Yuzicappi, Dakota
Technical, Logistical, and Website Development Teams
Thanks to the following individuals who provided editorial, technical and logistical support:
  • Terry Massey, NCCIE Technical Team Lead
  • Stewart Manhas, NCCIE Editor
  • Grace McLeod, FNUniv Elders Council Liaison
  • Alina Perrault, NCCIE Technical Assistant
  • Engineered Code, Regina, SK
  • CineSend, Toronto, ON
Funders
Deep appreciation is extended to First Nations University of Canada and Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) for their financial support for this project.

Barry Ahenakew, Nêhiyawak Elder

Ahtahkakoop First Nation

Margaret Cote, Anihšināpē (Saulteaux) Elder

Cote First Nation

AJ (Allan Joe) Felix, Nêhiyawak Elder

Sturgeon Lake First Nation

Velma Goodfeather, Dakota Elder

Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation

George Kanipitetew, Nêhiyawak Elder

Onion Lake Cree Nation

Dave Leswiss, Dakota Elder

Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation

Francis McAdam, Nêhiyawak Elder

Big River First Nation

Juliette McAdam, Nêhiyawak Elder

Big River First Nation

Sylvia McAdam, Nêhiyawak Knowledge Keeper

Big River First Nation

Jimmy Myo, Nêhiyawak Elder

Moosomin First Nation

Charles Stevenson, Anihšināpē (Saulteaux) Elder

Keeseekoose First Nation

In Memory

Some of the individuals involved in this project have passed on since these recordings were created. NCCIE, FNUniv, and JSGS wish to express their gratitude to everyone involved and to their families who keep their spirits and memories close to their hearts.