GNWT slammed
Dene Nation effort to replace government is 'in the works'

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 14/00) - The National Chief of the Dene Nation believes the future of the nation may lie in the displacement of the GNWT.

At a press conference held at the Discovery Inn on Monday, National Dene Chief Bill Erasmus -- briefing the press on the Dene leadership meeting held in Aklavik, June 5-9 -- said that the GNWT is maintaining the status quo and not First Nation interests.

"(The GNWT) is not working," he said.

"That the future of the Dene Nation is to replace the GNWT is definitely in the works and discussions."

He said it is the Dene Nation's role to protect the interests of its people.

"Things are changing," he said, adding, "We shouldn't question whether it shouldn't exist, as long as there is a Dene there will be a Dene Nation."

Erasmus pointed to recent taxation by the federal government on the Dene as an infringement of their treaty and aboriginal rights.

"Treaty 8 and Treaty 11 guarantee immunity," he said.

Erasmus also stressed the need for funding from the federal government.

"We've had to beg borrow and steal to get by," he said, adding,"Canada acts like we're not necessary."

Only 17 of 30 bands were represented at the leadership meeting. The Dene National Assembly will be held in Fort Resolution from July 24-29, to discuss, taxation, gun control and elect a new national chief.