The GNWT's role
Elder's perspective on third-party negotiations

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Hay River (Feb 18/00) - The issue of if and how the Deh Cho First Nations will allow the GNWT to participate in their self-government negotiations with the feds is still unclear.

But as Fort Simpson elder Leo Norwegian sees it, the territorial government has to be included in the talks.

"They're not going to go away and we're not going to go away," he said during a break at the leadership assembly on the Hay River Reserve Friday.

"Sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them."

Norwegian said a working group, consisting of Grand Chief Michael Nadli, Liidlii Kue Chief Rita Cli, chief negotiator Chris Reid, assistant negotiator Herb Norwegian and himself has been formed to deal with the issue.

Norwegian added he's been included because he possesses a lot of traditional knowledge. It will be important to integrate traditional knowledge in future laws and policies, he suggested. An elders' council is scheduled to convene in March to discuss the matter, he added.

"That's the biggest problem -- two worlds collided (aboriginal and white)," he said. "It's like putting the pieces of the puzzle together."

The key will be to keep the integrity of the environment as the number 1 priority, and to promote sharing and respect of others, he said.

The government of the day neglects those principles and imposes too many rules and regulations on people, he said.