Political & Economic Organizations - Additional Reading

Business and Politics

Before 1969, Aboriginal Peoples had made several attempts to organize a national political organization.  Each organization failed, generally because of lack of government support or attention.  These included the League of Indians after World War I, the North American Indian Brotherhood after World War II, and the national Indian Council (NIC) in 1961.  The NIC’s goal was to promote unity among all the constituents – in this case, Status Indians, non-Status Indians, First Nations that had signed treaties and Métis peoples.  The NIC failed partly because it was too difficult to develop a single voice that could speak for the needs of all its members.

Letter from Frederick Loft, President of the League of Indians of Canada, to Chief Murray, Oka, Quebec
In his letter, Frederick Loft outlines the goals, aims, and ambitions of the League of Indians of Canada, and wants Chief Murray and his band to consider becoming members of the League. Loft states how necessary it is for Aboriginal peoples to unite; across the country, he says, "we...are sadly strangers to each other," even though they share the same "needs, drawbacks, handicaps and troubles." He goes on to say that the League's goals include land rights, since as law-abiding citizens they too have served their country and king, in war as well as in peacetime. In the second page of Loft's typed letter to Chief Murray, Oka, Quebec, Frederick Loft continues to explain the goals of the League of Indians of Canada. He personalizes the invitation to Chief Murray with a short handwritten note at the end of the letter, asking the chief to respond as soon as possible. He also reassures the chief that the League is “non-sectarian,” meaning that there is no religious discrimination, and any Aboriginal person can join regardless of differences in spiritual beliefs.
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs
November 26, 1919

After the NIC broke up, Métis people and non-Status Indians formed the Native Council of Canada.  Status Indians formed the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB).  Soon after the NIB was formed in 1968, the federal government announced its White Paper. 

None of the national Aboriginal political organizations you read about in this chapter have official political power.  The Assembly of First Nations does not, for example, represent its constituents in the House of Common as an elected Member of Parliament does.  Instead, national Aboriginal political organizations lobby the federal government on behalf of their communities’ interests.