Monday, November 5, 2012

Chief Ian MacKay, Red Earth Cree Nation at the Chief's Forum on Treaty Implementation

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. When was the last time you saw a rainbow? Did you pull over and enjoy? Did you take a picture? Did you call a friend and say, "Hey, check out the sky!"

In my sacred teachings, the rainbow is a promise from the Creator, a treaty of sorts.

Thank you, Chief MacKay for sharing what you think about when you see a rainbow.

-- Sheena
Ian MacKay:  Chief, Red Earth Cree Nation

The hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our people was one of maintaining balance with nature.  Now, in order to fit in with the larger society we must learn and use the cunning of the white man.

I want to speak of the teachings of our people.  My uncle took me aside one afternoon and asked me to take a look at the rainbow and tell to him what I saw.  He told me that one of these days he would ask me again.  I was never able to give him a response because he passed on shortly after.  Every time I see a rainbow I reflect on that question.  I wanted to share what I believe he was asking and what I hope is the response.

I see a rainbow at different times of the year, summer and fall.  There are certain concepts in that rainbow.  There are times when the rainbow is clear to us, such as in the context of Treaty discussions.  I think that’s the time when our people are more focused and when the Treaty questions and Treaty issues are at their clearest.  There are times when the rainbow is faded and those are the times when we lose focus.

I go hunting on the lakes surrounding our reserve lands and there’s a park on that lake.  You look out on the lake you see two parcels of land separated by water.  At one time I saw the arc of the rainbow touch both parcels of land and I thought, "That is like the Treaties that link two Nations."

The rainbow seems so close sometimes that you can touch it.  Those are the times we are close to Treaty implementation.  There are times when that rainbow seems so far away that we can never hope to achieve it.  The colors are the Nations of the peoples, as it arcs over our land and arcs over us as a people as well.

We’ve been told by the Crown that Treaty implementation may be nothing more than an illusion that we can never hope to attain.  We don’t need to hear this.  Just like the rainbow, we don’t have to touch it to know that it is real.  We know the rainbow is real just like we know that our Treaties are real.

We are here, we will always be here, just like out Treaties.  We are here, we know who we are, we know what we have, we know what is happening and we know what we must do.

page 41-42 , excerpt from
Chiefs' Forum on Treaty Implementation

Dakota Dunes Casino and Conference Center
March 29 & 30, 2012

shared as public document with permission from
Dan Bellegarde, Executive Director, Treaty Governance Office

CD of Chiefs' Forum on treaty Implementation available for $5.00
or free transcript is available
by contacting Dan Bellegarde at

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