Leroy Little Bear has been working in the area of First Nations governance for the past four decades and has seen very little progress, but is optimistic about the future.
Little Bear, a member of Alberta’s Blood Tribe, was the keynote speaker at the National Centre for First Nations Governance’s Prairie Forum in Regina on Tuesday, and his topic was What type of Indian do you want to be?
Little Bear said in order to make real changes, young people need to connect with the old people in order to keep languages and culture alive, which are important for First Nation identity.
“Let’s suppose I woke up 200 years from now. Will I hear any Cree? Will I hear any Blackfoot?” he asked. “If we don’t do anything about it now, 200 years from now – if I were to wake up – I would probably wake up among strangers.”
Little Bear said preventing that future from becoming a reality is what motivates him to share his knowledge with First Nation youths.
“So if I wake up, I won’t be a stranger among my people,” he said.
Little Bear is the former director of the American Indian program at Harvard University and professor emeritus of native studies at the University of Lethbridge.