In Gratitude of Congratulatory Comments

Kwey to all of you who took time away from your COVID concerns to write congratulatory notes to me (regarding Poet Laureate) via FB, website and emails.

All your good words were graciously received. May Creator bless all of you for your love of poetry.

If you are interested, check out a new video link produced by Monique Manatch of ICMI regarding my becoming Ottawa’s Poet Laureate: 

Also, today is my 30 year anniversary of the accident which resulted in me living now with chronic pain. What I have to say about it is this: Let us all enjoy life to the fullest. Look to the sacredness we can enjoy together, today and tomorrow. The past is the past! If it has no blessings to offer, then let it decay.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind

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Albert Dumont – Ottawa Poet Laureate (Algonquin Territory)

new Poet Laureate 2021-2023

Big news! I have been selected (by unanimous decision) to be the City of Ottawa’s next Poet Laureate. What a proud moment this is in my life!

The outgoing Poet Laureate (Deanna Young) said in our recent talk, that I will now become the ‘ambassador for poetry’ for the City of Ottawa. I take a quick glance at my life and think, I can do this! Poetry has always been a rich and tremendously healing medicine for me. It is an antidote for a broken heart, often coming in as a healer after heartache has shrunken normally big shoulders to a size where lifting the emotional pain weighing them down no longer seems possible. Poems can do what a doctor often cannot do! Poetry is joy! Poetry is that smile appearing on your face when you realize at the end of a tiring and stressful month that you still have an abundance of energy left in you to celebrate the fact you came out on top. Poetry will make you believe that deep, deep at the bottom of a coal mine, a sunrise awaits, to heal and nourish.

I will promote poetry. I will do it in Ottawa and at Kitigan Zibi (my home community where I was born). I will do all I can to turn young people on to it. I will tell young poets that poetry is fire, it is water, it is the rich earth under our bare feet, it is the playful wind under the shade of weeping willow trees, it is part of the culture of the People of Indigenous bloodline and all others who embrace poetry as one of the main arteries, bringing humanity to all our actions and deeds.

I intend to journal my time as Poet Laureate for Ottawa through the writing of poems. What I produce will be from the lens of a man in the winter of his time. Who I became after my recovery from severe alcohol addiction will be present in my writings. More often than not, the terrible chronic pain I live with too, will insist on having a say in what this Poet Laureate shares in his poems. The activism I’ve done, the racism I’ve been confronted with in my life will roll like a speeding 210 lbs. (my weight) copper-coloured bowling ball towards any ugliness I see in the ‘Town That Fun Forgot’. I have little doubt that no other city in Canada ever had a Poet Laureate quite like me. I survived a 43 ft. fall from a gristmill roof. What other poet can say that! I might become known as the ‘warrior poet’ (some of my poems wear steel-toed moccasins), or the ‘tall poet’ (although I’ve shrunk almost 2” in recent years) or who knows, some folks might call me the ‘crazy poet’. Whatever, I will promote poetry in this city with all the vigour and energy I can muster. If ever there’s a run on pity pots, my advice, stay out of that line-up. Read a poem instead. Life is too short to spend it waiting for someone else to join you in an Ottawa drainage ditch wallowing in self-pity. I’m not the pity pot type and I think my poems prove it.

I want my friends in Quyon, Pontiac County, to know that I have always enjoyed the supportive words you sent my way in recent yers. The oldtimers of the ‘Onion’ (Quyon) I knew back in the day truly inspired my storytelling style and I’m so grateful. I’ll do my best to make you proud.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind

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In Honour of the Duke of Edinburgh

It was at the time of the Flower Moon, the last moon of spring season, as feasted by the Algonquin Anishinabe that the Duke of Edinburgh took his first breath as a human being. Spring, a fitting season for a man to be born who would work, for many years, to preserve the health of lands, such as those found where wildflowers grow.

In the centre of the Fasting Circle a human being grows greater in wisdom after days without sustenance. A spirit comes forward to direct the ceremony’s participant to honour all people of this world who take a bold stand to rid sacred Mother Earth of the pollutants slowly killing our waters along with poisoning the winds we bring into our lungs. The spirits of the hawk and buffalo, the sturgeon and the pine tree also send forth their blessings to the side of any person who, like the Duke of Edinburgh, act in defence of all things the Good Spirit placed before us so we, as human beings could live well.

The wisdom of the mature human heart speaks to the older people each day of the duty they have to their next generations. It instructs them to point the youngsters towards many challenges and opportunities allowing the youth to grow stronger in mind, body and spirit. To be kind and generous, to be courageous and above all else, to be honourable – these are the teachings the Duke of Edinburgh hoped the young people of the Commonwealth would embrace and bring fully into their identities as contributing members of their nation.

The Duke of Edinburgh was to his Queen what an island rich in healing energy is to a weary traveller on the Great River of Life. By her side he was for her that place she could rest and regroup, a place for her to rediscover a lost trust offered only by the rarest of sanctuaries. To the Queen he was as the tall pine tree we see on the horizon who graciously allows the rising moon to rest awhile on its branches.

Now that the Duke has been received into the eternal embrace of his ancestors and after the honour song they sang to welcome him among them has brought immense joy to his spirit, he will step forward to enter into sacred council with them. The Duke of Edinburgh will speak in the circle about his years on the ocean where as a young man he put his life in harm’s way in defence of the honour of his nation. He will tell of his visits to Turtle Island (Canada) and the friendships he made with the First Peoples. The memories the Duke of Edinburgh has of our Chiefs and of our lands will bring greater peace and joy into his eternal home. May Creator bless the Duke of Edinburgh for the good work he did in the name of mankind.

South Wind

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April 9 – 33 Years of Sobriety

Good morning my Daughters and Grandchildren,

Today, April 9, 2021, I celebrate 33 years of sobriety. It seems to me that the many suns, the many moons which have passed since then, have brought forth joyful experiences we would not have had if sobriety was absent from my life. So I wonder on this magnificent spring day what would have become of me if I had not vowed in the spring of 1988 to never allow alcohol to ever pass my lips again. I often think also, especially when I find myself in the centre of the grace, the tranquility and the peacefulness of the forest, what would have become of you too, if I had not put alcohol, the great destroyer, down for good. I tried to the best of my abilities to be a good father but I’m aware that recovery from severe alcohol addiction takes time. Eventually, you understood that my support for you, my precious girls and grandchildren, was unconditional. I guess what I’m saying is that I know you would have still turned out to become the proud Algonquin women you are today, no matter what the past did to you. When I look at you today with such amazement and pride, I can’t help but hope I had a role in helping you map out your life in a good way through my love for you and with any inspiration I sent your way.

With each passing season after my sobriety began I realized evermore how important it is for me to leave something behind for my family to remember me by. An estate, a pride in the Dumont family bloodline and the precious memories of family love and solidarity are things which are of utmost importance for you to have from me to you. I give you these things with a sober and loving heart. How spiritually broken I would be if I failed to do so. When I cross over to the land of our peaceful ancestors, I hope to hear an honour song being sung for me. But here too, after I have gone home, I would be very happy indeed if you, my loved ones, feasted me every now and then. Remember at those times how your dad and grandfather made something of his life after alcohol disappeared from his life.

I confess that I am guilty of bringing a great deal of pain and heartache to loved ones while I lived my life as a no-account drunkard. To all those that I wounded somehow, I ask now for your forgiveness. For all those times that I should have been there for you but was not, I express here and now the great regret I feel today for having failed you. Alcohol was a cancer slowly devouring my spirit. It blinded me and made a big hole in my heart. I believed I didn’t have a fighting chance against it. If not for the spiritual beliefs of our Anishinabe ancestors, I would never have been able to conquer alcohol. With the sword of family love I was able to stab it in the heart and watch it with glee as it convulsed in its final death throes.

If I have, through my life, given you the dearest of memories a child could ever have with their dad and grandfather since my sobriety began, then I am truly at peace on this day marking my 33rd year of sobriety. It seems to me that there isn’t a ‘Father’s Day’ in the past where you haven’t given me a card saying ‘To the Best Dad Ever’ and upon reading it (each and every Father’s Day) my heart always filled with pride. Sobriety made it all possible. My love for you is everlasting. Never doubt it for even a minute.

Never but never lose sight of the fact that love and support is always present in this world and in the next one. All you need to is reach out for it.

Your Dad, your Grandfather
Albert Dumont

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Rest in Peace, Matt Brown, you were a Good Activist

An Ottawa Citizen newspaper obit let me know on Saturday, March 27 that Matthew Morgan-Brown passed away of unknown causes on March 16, 2021. Matt was only 43 years of age. Far too young to die!

Matt’s hope for our world was one where poisons capable of killing water would be outlawed, a world where birds and animals would never go extinct at the cost of money being made, a world where there would be no such thing as corrupt politicians and a world where the so-called Almighty Dollar would be stomped, tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail. The world Matt would have loved to live in while in this physical realm can only be imagined. Such a world truly is a pipe dream with no chance of ever coming to pass. Only where Matt Morgan-Brown is now in that spiritual plain of his new existence, does he enjoy the world he fought so desperately for on God’s green earth. The waters he finds around him now can never be poisoned, let there be no doubt about it.

Matt had a big heart for the spiritual ways of the Indigenous Peoples. He stood loyally with the Algonquins when the activists among our Nation made a stand in defence of trees (Barriere Lake) or when we made demands of health for the territory’s waters (Akikodjiwan). He got my respect because of it! The truth and all it stands for was something of the greatest importance to Matt. He enjoyed deep, meaningful conversations with fellow activists he knew would be truthful in the opinions and views they shared. He just didn’t have the time of day for BS.

Matt was a poor man so far as bank accounts go but the spiritual wealth he acquired over the short time of his ‘earth walk’, placed him in the upper class so far as I’m concerned. Matt celebrated his birthday every year. He’d choose a restaurant, make a few phone calls and at a time appointed by him, his friends would meet to dine and have a few laughs as one. I was always proud to pick up the tab for the meal Matt had selected for himself.

Matthew Morgan-Brown. If you didn’t know him, I ask that you mourn him just the same. And I’ll tell you why you should! If you care about the health of this precious planet of ours, mourn Matt. If human rights mean anything at all to you, mourn Matt. If you have ever been victimized by politicians, the police or by the ruthlessness of the super rich, then mourn Matthew Morgan-Brown. Mourn him with all the power of your heart because Matt fought with all his might to bring righteousness to all of those things. He did so on his own nickel. Never forget that he lived in poverty (often eating in soup kitchens) and that he would have given up his life to save yours in a heartbeat. I know with all certainty that he would have done so.

Enjoy the life you have now, Matthew Morgan-Brown. I’ll be seeing you again at some point in the future.

With eternal respect,

South Wind

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Fraudsters Attempting to Destroy Algonquin Nation (Part 2)

I address the following to the People of the Algonquin Anishinabeg:

Are you, as a status member of the Algonquin Nation, aware that the Algonquin Land Claim is being partially settled (Ontario) without your input being requested nor wanted? An ‘Agreement in Principle’ has already been signed between the Crown (Canada) and an ‘organization’ calling themselves the ‘Algonquins of Ontario’ (AOO). Excuse my language but all of this is pretty weird shit, given the fact that there is no such thing as the Algonquins of Ontario. There is only the Algonquin Nation, period. As such, it is members of the Algonquin Nation (all of us) who should be the beneficiaries of any compensation forthcoming when our land claim is finally settled.

The AOO say they reached out to all Algonquin Bands years ago but according to them, our leadership responded “we aren’t ready for it”. The AOO then proceeded without our Chiefs, as if no other option existed in their negotiations with the Crown. Out of respect for the Nation as a whole, no negotiations on the land claim should have ever occurred until All Algonquin Bands were ‘ready’ to commence with negotiations in the land claim process. The Agreement In Principle worked out by the AOO calls on the Crown to pay $300million (chump change) to the AOO for our Algonquin lands on the Ontario side of the river. You, the Status Algonquins of Kitigan Zibi, Barriere Lake, Kitcisakik, Lac Simon, Abitibiwinni, Long Point, Timiskaming, Kebaowek, and Wolf Lake never had a say in this agreement. It’s like you owning a house and having a bunch of pirates suddenly come in and sell the main floor of your home and then expecting you to be happy with it. It’s like an inheritance has been left to you by your grandparents and then have unscrupulous fraudsters charging in, pushing you aside, to stake claim on what is rightfully yours. I say fraudsters to describe these people because even the ‘Indian Act’ states that any land claim settlements being negotiated must be done between a First Nation and the Crown. Nowhere does it say in the Act that negotiations can take place between the Crown and an ‘organization’ to settle a land claim. Especially with an organization like the AOO who have among their members people with point one of one percent Indigenous blood in their veins. You’ve got to wonder, at what time are these people going to ID as Métis? (Check my past blogs to read opinions I have expressed on this topic.) Always keep in mind that our ancestors never gave away nor sold Algonquin lands to an organization (AOO). Algonquin land is Algonquin land is Algonquin land! These lands are our inheritance! Take a look at yourself in the nearest mirror. Ask yourself, “Am I or am I not a member of a Nation? The Algonquin Nation!” If you answer to the affirmative, then by George, do something about it! It’s time for the youth of our grassroots communities to rise up and take the lead!

The AOO evicted 2,500 of their members a few years ago. Why? Apparently it was discovered that the 2,500 people thrown out of the AOO were not REAL Algonquins. The question we want answered is, how did the 2,500 people identifying as Algonquins get on the AOO membership list in the first place? How many more fraudsters are still on their membership rolls?

The Algonquin Land Claim cannot be settled in bits and pieces. Ancestral lands cannot be bargained away by any one organization. The Crown cannot negotiate the Algonquin Land Claim with people who are NOT recognized as Algonquins under the definition put forward in the Indian Act. There are billions of dollars at stake, not millions. Money Algonquins receive in a land claim settlement will build our economies. (The entire land claim must be settled in one package.) We will finally have better schools, healthcare, homes etc. etc. If we allow the AOO to settle our land claim, we get NOTHING!

We, as REAL Algonquins, need to do whatever is necessary to stop the Agreement In Principle the AOO and the Feds have put together. If we fail, then we fail not only ourselves but also our future generations. Algonquins not yet born will shake their heads in dismay. “How could our People be so stupid?” they will say. My descendants will be well aware that Mishòmis Oshki Nodin (Albert Dumont) tried to do what was right on the subject of the Algonquin Land Claim. I hope and pray that ‘your’ future generations will be able to declare the same about you.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Fraudsters Attempting to Destroy Algonquin Nation (Part 1)

According to scientists who study animal evolution, dogs are descendants of wolves. Personally, I have my doubts about that. But for the sake of avoiding argument, let’s say that I agree that the old hound I saw today, tied by the neck to a bike railing at Loblaws had indeed an ancestor from long, long ago who was the alpha of a marauding wolf pack. Just between you and I, the old hound with his droopy, sad eyes, floppy ears and short legs does not have, in my opinion, any resemblance to the fierce wolves, science claims he possesses a blood connection to. The hound looks more to me like someone trained to track and take down wolves in the most cruelest of ways. I wonder what the wolf howling up at a summer moon would have to say if he were informed that the old hound, was claiming a close kinship to him. What would the wolf of the rugged and free forest say if the old hound one day, let it be known to all including the wolf that he (the hound) was renouncing his ‘houndness’ and wished forevermore to ‘identify’ as a wolf. I wonder if the moon, the birds and animals would believe Snoopy when he stepped forward and declared, “Behold, before you I stand today as a noble and proud wolf.” What would Creator think of it all?

To be clear, the view I share here is directed at people who, even though they lived a life of privilege (never experiencing the oppressive torment of the Indian Act) ID now as First Nations citizens. Too many of them do so to pillage grants being offered by Arts Councils put in place specifically for artists of Indigenous bloodlines. Other reasons why fraudsters declare themselves as Indigenous is their hope that they will become respected in the community as elders and spiritual leaders. Jobs created for Indigenous Peoples are being stolen by workers who self-ID as being First Nation. Who knows, some of them may even believe that their European bloodline alone, qualifies them to step forward as some kind of saviour of the poor, defenceless, ignorant ‘Indians’. It’s as if some self-ID people believe that if not for the Joseph Boydens and Michelle Latimers of this world, there would be no success to speak of in so-called ‘Indian Country’.

In this crazy world we live in we have people like Joseph Boyden and Michelle Latimer who claim a blood connection to the Indigenous Peoples. The ancestor they oh so lovingly embrace could be from several hundred years ago. The identity thieves exploit the unknown relative for all it’s worth. These shameless people, the ones who are outright liars, don their ribbon shirts and slip on moccasins before promoting themselves as artists, storytellers, elders etc. hailing from Algonquin, Cree, Huron or whatever other Nation they pull from the hat of many Nations. They go with pen on the ready to wherever money is being dished out supposedly for access to Indigenous People. They look for and then check off that small but powerful box in a grant application ‘are you First Nation?’. The pen comes out and they mark their X. Some of these people, who hardly have any more Indigenous blood in them than did the mosquito who sucked blood from my skin last spring, sadly, have a better than average chance of securing a grant simply because they were never weighted down in life by the oppression of the Indian Act. When you live a life of privilege the ‘con’ is much easier for the crooked-minded to pull off. The ‘self-ID’ gets the grant, his/her voice is heard while the voice of the First Nations artist whose family line was confronted by the ‘Indian Act’ for generation after generation falls silent. What a lot of the self-ID (the outright liars) produce is popcorn, hocus pocus, new age crap. Sickening as it is, the fraudsters want to tell ‘our story’.

Getting back to the wolf and the hound, if you want to hear the story of what life is for a wolf, do not expect to get an accurate account of it from a hound. Go to the wolf. What the wolf has to say will be authentic, what the hound tells will be make-believe. Make no mistake about it, a lot of the liars who self-ID as Algonquin are not in solidarity with the Algonquin Nation. What they really are is a nuisance, another obstacle, another tactic from an oppressive society to keep the Anishinabe down. If someone among them truly does have Indigenous blood in their veins/heart, then I, as a human rights activist, will stand in their defence. All I ask in return is that if your blood connection to the Anishinabe is from hundreds of years ago, please do not get in our way as an artist, nor steal jobs meant for Algonquins, nor as someone who expects to have a vote on the Algonquin land claim.

If Michelle Latimer is a talented artist, good for her. She did not however, have to ID as an Algonquin to be successful. Believe me, grant money that she got by checking off the box in an application is money an authentic Algonquin artist could have secured. Michelle’s voice was heard. The REAL voice was silenced. Let’s have some faith in our First Nations artists. They are talented. They are genuine. Give them a chance to prove it!

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Bob Nesbitt, Friend and Founder of Grassroots Festival

Bob Nesbitt
born April 26, 1939 
passed away February 27, 2021

Bob Nesbitt had an honourable heart. And he kept it well through the doing of good deeds and service to his community. He was a man who understood fully, what it is to be a human being never allowing the fact that his skin was white to interfere in how he lived his life. Bob Nesbitt’s eyes searched only for what was good in the hearts of all people he met. There was no mountain he couldn’t climb, such was his energy, such was his spirit. A friend called on Sunday afternoon to let me know that Bob had died. But people like Bob Nesbitt do not die. They live on and on, led into eternity by the hand of all the world’s tomorrows to become a legend and as the old saying goes, “A legend never dies.”

I met with Bob several times at North River Road Park for egg salad sandwiches and homemade cookies, in the months before cancer gained on him to the point where he said to me, “I’m in a lot of pain. The thought of not being in pain anymore brings a smile to my face. Do you know what I mean, Albert?” I replied that yes, I did know what he meant. Bob didn’t fear death. A good man with an unburdened conscience never does!

As an Algonquin man and as a human being I can say that the day I crossed paths with Bob was a blessed one in my life. He was the type of man who truly wanted to leave this world better, not just for his family and friends but for everyone. In Bob’s eyes the citizens of Ontario and all of Canada were deserving of being treated with respect and dignity.

Bob was a former carpenter and forester. His love of trees, their beauty and grandeur, their wisdom, were things always by his side. Bob understood the forest. To him, there was no better place to be. The waterways, the trails, the canoe, a campfire, time with his adoring wife Susan, wit, humour, conversation, a hearty laugh, these things meant so much to Bob. I see him now, in my mind’s eye. He is there again in a forest, far, far away from cancer. He is pain free, he is smiling.

Bob Nesbitt founded the ‘Ottawa Grassroots Festival’. It was important to Bob that an Algonquin open the Fest with welcoming words and a prayer. A friendship began. The Festival will carry on. Bob will always be there in spirit. He was an earth shaker, a rare one indeed. Ottawa has lost a community builder. Who will fill Bob Nesbitt’s boots? It won’t be easy. Whoever takes up the challenge, my advice, call Bob by your side and you’ll be fine. Bob Nesbitt won’t let you down.

Keep the Circle strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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An Algonquin Perspective to the Algonquin Land Claim

I have a vague recollection of a biblical story from my tender years. It went something like this.

A young man had come into an inheritance, a substantial amount of gold. He took it and left the family home, heading straight for the high life. He wasn’t wise with the wealth he had inherited. He partied hearty, foolishly spending his money as if it would be everlasting. In a short while he was penniless. In rags, dirty and starving he returned to his former home and family, begging for forgiveness. The young man’s family welcomed him back into their loving circle. The fatted calf was slain, a great feast was prepared to celebrate the homecoming of the ‘Prodigal Son’.

The family’s decision to welcome a member of their bloodline, a close family member, back into their midst was a wise and proper one. The story being told today by the Algonquins of Ontario is much different than that of the Prodigal Son. The story the AOO tell, speaks of a large, proud family living in a grand house. One day, a distant cousin, ten times removed shows up on their doorstep. “Kwey, kwey,” he shouts into the house. “It’s me! I’m here! Step aside, I’m taking over your home.” The AOO would have you believe that their story makes every bit of sense. But to many, like perhaps 99% of status Algonquins, the story they tell makes absolutely no sense at all. REAL Algonquins ask, “Who the hell is this long lost cousin? What gives him the right to take over negotiations on our land claim?”

I recall very clearly back in the 1970’s that in Pontiac County a group calling themselves ‘The Indian Alliance’ suddenly showing up. They lobbied for housing and other benefits for citizens of Indigenous bloodline. A lot of people in the Pontiac saw an opportunity and signed on as an ‘Indian’. In short order subsidized housing became available to them. It was pretty crazy! Hardly 10 years before the Indian Alliance appeared, the Dumont family (my family) was on their own as ‘Indians’ in the Pontiac. But with the creation of the Indian Alliance and the promise of something in it for them, people who had shouted at the Dumont family to ”Go back where you came from, you damn Indians” or “Monje Savage” or “Fuckin’ Redskins” were all of a sudden identifying as Indians. None of them were identifying as ‘Algonquin’, only as Indians (this is an important fact, keep reading). Today, those former Indians are referring to themselves as ‘Off Reserve Algonquins’. I expect that they’ll be making a push to be recognized as legitimate voters in our land claim in the near future.

The experience of the Dumont Family in Pontiac County is more likely than not to be also that of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn. People who cussed down ‘Reserve Indians’ back in the 50’s and 60’s are now claiming to be Algonquins. Not only are they claiming to be Algonquins but they expect to have voting rights when Algonquins eventually decide what will be proper compensation for our unceded territory.

On the matter of blood quantum and how and why it matters on the topic of the Algonquin land claim, my feelings are this: The Algonquins who endured the oppression of the Indian Act and have become known as ‘Status Indians’ should decide on what blood quantum is acceptable to those who hope to have a vote on our land claim. If your blood quantum is at a level deemed to be too low by the Algonquin Nation, then step back. You do not have a right to a vote.

The AOO tell us that they “lived as Algonquins”. Let them agree then that investigators randomly choose 500 from the 1000’s of them claiming today to be ‘Real Algonquins’. If they are indeed REAL Algonquins, they won’t mind to be scrutinized so as to prove their claim of blood quantum and/or Algonquin ancestry. I know that in Pontiac County, members of the Indian Alliance did not ID as ‘Algonquin’. I recall a lot of them saying, “My grandma told us that her grandma was an Indian” (could have been Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk etc. etc.). Such a revelation should not give a person voting rights in our land claim. An Algonquin Chief recently stated, “The AOO are Michelle Latimer times five thousand.” The land claim cannot be partially settled as the AOO would do in Ontario. A land claim can only be settled in its entirety. The Michelle Latimer types do not have voting rights.

I end by saying that those people of my long ago memories who claimed ‘Indian’ bloodline will never become the Prodigal Son, to be welcomed with open arms as members of the Algonquin Nation. The Indian Act, for all of its destructive measures, clearly defines what an ‘Indian’ is. We do not need the Crown to tell us who we are and we’ll never let go of our right to say who it is that we bring into our community as a strong and contributing member.

Check out the song ‘Where Were You When’, one of my heroes sang. The words are as follows:

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN

Where were you when we needed you our friend
Where were you when we needed you to bend
Now you claim to be part Sioux or Cherokee
But where were you when we came close to the end?
When our land was being stolen, you just stood by
When we were being massacred, you didn’t even cry
When they put us on reservations, you didn’t lose any sleep
When we were starving half to death, you had enough to eat.
Where were you when we needed you our friend
Where were you when we needed you to bend
Now you claim to be part Sioux or Cherokee
But where were you when we came close to the end?
When we had no voice, you never said a word
When we cried out to you, you never even heard
When our freedom was bein’ denied, you never questioned why
And when we needed help, somehow the well was always dry
And, where were you when we needed you our friend
Where were you when we needed you to bend
Now you claim to be part Sioux or Cherokee
But where were you when we came close to the end?
Where were you when we needed you our friend
Where were you when we needed you to bend
Now you claim to be part Sioux or Cherokee
But where were you when we came close to the end?

Floyd Red Crow Westerman

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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Letter to Mayor Watson re: Algonquins of Ontario

Dear Mayor Watson and Council Members,

‘Respect Every Algonquin Life’ (REAL) is something human rights activists stand to defend on the traditional lands of the Algonquin Anishinabeg.

It might well be true that some members of the leadership at Pikwàkanagàn recognize the ‘Algonquins of Ontario’ (AOO) organization as a legitimate body holding the right to determine how the Algonquin land claim settlement finally plays out. The politicians of the City of Ottawa, of Queen’s Park and the Feds might also agree with this outlook, failing somehow to see the nonsense in it. Why not, it serves Federal and Provincial politicians well to do so! But the fact that Algonquin territory is Algonquin territory no matter what side of the Ottawa River it is on is a fact impossible to dispute. Therefore, all parties involved must accept that the Algonquins on the Québec side of the river have a Creator-given right to be at any negotiation table where things of interest to their future generations are at stake. It’s Algonquin land, our spiritual DNA is in all things of our territory. We never surrendered it to anyone, including people who are presently pointing to an Algonquin ancestor from many, many generations ago, as a bulldozer pushing away Status Algonquins from land claim negotiations.

If at the end all else fails, let the Supreme Court of Canada decide if the Algonquins from Québec Reserves have a say in the Algonquin land claim, yes or no! I have faith in the wisdom, the intelligence and the fairness Supreme Court judges are capable of to say who does and who does not have a right to be heard on the issue of the Algonquin land claim. Negotiations for a settlement should no longer move forward without a strong REAL Algonquin presence being at the centre of the negotiation circle. Some of my Algonquin friends who defend Algonquin rights are peaceful in their protests but denying them their right to be heard on this matter, would be testing their limitations to a dangerous zone.

The tactic being used by ‘white negotiators’ in the land claim settlement is disgusting beyond imagination. They dare to ignore REAL Algonquins, preferring to negotiate with people having absolutely no right to speak for us. If such a tactic to resolve a land claim is successful here on Algonquin territory, a precedent will be set. The morbidly ridiculous manoeuvre being tested now on Algonquin land, if successful, will bring forth others, just as determined as the AOO is to silence true voices. Expect an organization calling themselves the ‘Algonquins of Québec’ to rise up! They’ll be ‘recognized’ by the Province of Québec and the Feds, and as is the case in Ontario, in a few years, the ‘Algonquins of Québec’ will be at the negotiation table in greater numbers than REAL Algonquins and we’ll end up only as mere observers in our own land claim (that’s what’s happening now in Ontario). Land claims across Canada will be settled ‘on the cheap’ by a pasal of wannabees, all because we allowed it to happen here.

I heard the CBC interview with Lynn Clouthier (AOO, Ottawa Negotiation Representative). Ms. Clouthier, after describing generations of AOO members (excluding Pikwàkanagàn) living in the Valley, stated, “We (AOO) lived as Algonquins with other Algonquins.” If this is true then where are the AOO’s Algonquin language speakers? Who among them were birchbark canoe builders? What are the stories passed on to them by their keepers of Indigenous Knowledge? If they exist, then I want to know who it was who taught them and how much the cost was? What evidence can the AOO produce that they were ‘living as Algonquins’ prior to the 1970’s?

People like Ms. Clouthier never felt the full extent of the poisonous bite the monster called the ‘Indian Act’ sunk into the hearts and spirits of ‘Status’ Algonquins. I ask, did her parents experience the ‘Pass System’? Were her parents forced to wait until 1960 to vote in a federal election? Did her parents or brothers and sisters attend Residential School or Day School? If the answer is no, then how dare they demand to be front and centre at the negotiating table on our land claim. At best, Ms. Clouthier might be accurate in describing herself as ‘Métis’, but she crosses the line when seeing herself as a human being having voting rights with the Algonquin land claim.

A REAL Algonquin would never ignore, forget nor dishonour their Brothers and Sisters from Reserves in our territory when it comes to land claim negotiations. Only desperate phoney imposters would do such a thing. The land claim cannot be settled in part (Ontario). It can only be settled in its entirety. Our lands in Ontario were given to the Algonquins by Creator at the same time as were those on the Québec side of the Ottawa River. It is the Ottawa River watershed! It is us!

I urge the authentic Algonquin Chiefs (from status communities) to request ‘Fifth Estate’  type investigators to look into the activities of the AOO leadership to discover where, what and why their organization was founded. A lot of corrupt, criminal and deceitful actions involving politicians, developers, business people and perhaps even Indigenous leaders will no doubt be uncovered. I urge the Real Chiefs to acquire the best of legal representation to sue the AOO leadership for interfering with a land claim process through the use of false representation. They (AOO) call themselves ‘Algonquins’ but are coming across more like pirates and pillagers. The Province of Ontario and the Federal Government are also liable for recognizing the AOO as legitimate representatives in our land claim. I urge all REAL Algonquins to contact their Chief and Band Councils and demand action on this extremely critical matter. We need now, more than ever before to get an iron grip on our identity as Algonquins. If we allow the AOO to continue in destroying us as a People, we fail our next generation to a degree that will bring shame to our ancestors and because of it, we will forever be the laughing stocks of all Turtle Island for allowing it to happen.

To the people who, outside of Pikwàkanagàn, call themselves ‘Algonquin’ I say this, “If this is what rocks your boat, then do it. There are people in Germany who each summer, build teepees and sing powwow songs while dancing in buckskins. Do what you want as long as you steer clear of our land claim. You don’t have any business in it.”

Mayor Watson said, “It is not the role of Ottawa City Council to judicate internal disputes between Algonquin communities.” He’s probably right. However, if Ottawa City Council is serious about reconciliation, they would not throw their support into one or the other of conflicting camps for the simple reason that by doing so, it chances enraging the other body. An ally or friend does not take such a chance! Ottawa City Council should stay out of this particular matter until the Algonquins (all Algonquins) are at peace with the problem before us. If Ottawa City Council moves ahead in support of Tewin, then they make it known to all that they stand with those who would erase the rights of the Algonquin Anishinabeg. A trust that can never be repaired will be broken because of a bad decision made by an Ottawa City Council with Jim Watson as Mayor. I ask Ottawa City Council that in regards to Tewin, stay out of it. Do not support it!

Albert Dumont
Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg


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