In 1977 Grand Chief John Kelly appeared before Royal Commission on the Northern Environment in Kenora. He titled his submission We are all in the Ojibway Circle. It is a stunning summation of environmental awareness of the primacy of the great economy, the earth as our nourishing but fragile mother.It is contained in John Ralston Saul’s last book The Comeback. It is a strong indictment of the “white man’s” insatiable greed for more territory, for the theft of land.
The Ojibway signed a treaty in 1873 trusting the government which said that it needed the land as a passage way to the west. The tribe was happy to share the land. Treaty #3 territory was then surrendered to the provincial government. There were no benefits to the tribe. The thievery continued “and more recently by industry.We atil possess certain things of value which the white man covets.” “The Ojibway” Kelly stated,” through our experience that wherever Indians possess or control anything valuable there will always be those who want to steal it. But worst of all, your society and the government which appointed you seem to encourage or at least condone the theft of indian lands.our land seems to be fair game.
Mr Commissioner, it seems to me that the stranger from the sunrise beyond the lakes just keeps coming back. Each time he promises us perpetual repose and gluttony, and leaves us with famine and disease. It also appears that as the years go by, the circle of the Ojibways gets bigger and bigger. Canadians of all colours and religion are entering that circle. You might feel that you have roots somewhere else, but in reality, you are right here with us.
I do not know if you feel the throbbing of the land in your chest, and if you feel the bear as your brother with a spirit purer and stronger than yours, or if the elk is on a higher level than is man. You may not share the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged by the stranger, but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. Much against my will and probably yours time and circumstance have put us together in the same circle. and so I come to plead with you to save me from the monstrous stranger of capitalist greed and technology.I come to inform you that my danger is your danger too. My genocide is your genocide. To commit genocide it is not necessary to build camps and ovens. All that is required is to remove the basis for a way of life.
This powerful submission would make a wonderful founding document of the Canadian conservative Party still outside the Ojibway circle.