Gwich'in meet
Gunter calls for direction

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

TSIIGEHTCHIC (Oct 08/99) - Though he said the final tabulations were not yet in, John Gunter called last week's Gwich'in Assembly in Tsiigehtchic a success.

Executive director of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, Gunter also described the mood at the three-day assembly as more conciliatory than that found of years past.

"I think there were a lot of compromises that were made on some key resolutions and we dealt with the controversial issues regarding our land claim and our role in self-government successfully," Gunter said. "Sometimes at assemblies people get angry because they feel things aren't being done, but there was a mood at this one to come up with solutions rather than complain."

Gunter said the key to that success was the council's recognition to listen to the communities.

"Each community has its own concerns about self-government and how they can participate in the land claim," he said. "It's a long process and we want to make sure they have representation to bring their opinions to the table and give direction to our negotiator, Bob Simpson."

He said this issue of community representation came up during the resolution discussions during the assembly's final night, Thursday.

"We're advertising for a Gwich'in negotiator now, but it's important that each community have its own negotiator," he said.

The size of the gathering, the scope of the issues, the number of reports presented and the limited time prevented some guests from having the opportunity to speak on all issues -- an issue raised by one Inuvik delegate last week. Guests included Mackenzie Delta MLA David Krutko as well as Gwich'in delegates from Old Crow.

Gunter said the issue of election reform would be raised further at a special assembly in the next three to four months, as would community representation.

Fort Good Hope musicians entertained the assembly-goers and Gunter said Tsiigehtchic residents rallied to make the guests feel at home.

"There was so much food you couldn't believe it," he said. "I organized it from the tribal council point of view but the community did all the work and even went on a hunt and brought back two moose."