Coming Full Circle – The Michif Song, Understanding the context, how it came about, the search for the song, the story behind the Many Eagles Set Thirsty Dance Song and the giving of the song to Tony Belcourt who then brought the song to the drum in a Nation-to-Nation ceremony between the Métis Nation and the Anishenabek Nation at Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation.
In the 1990’s the leaders of the Métis Nation under the leadership of President Tony Belcourt and then Grand Council Chief Vernon Roote of the Anishenabek Nation first began talks to rekindle old alliances based on kinship ties, sharing of values, culture, traditions. The talks continued in the early 2000’s under the leadership of Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, Deputy Grand Council Chief Nelson Toulouse, President Belcourt and his Executive. In 2002, the leadership agreed, under the guidance of Elder Gordon Waindubence, to rekindle the relationship in a traditional way: each leader would bring their song to the drum; they would smoke, dance and feast.
Tony put out the word far and wide that he wanted to find the appropriate song to bring to the drum in this sacred ceremony. Two years later he got a call from Nicholas Vrooman, an historian in Montana with close ties to the Métis in Montana and the Chippewa/Michif people of the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota and Manitoba who said he thought he might have found the song that he would need and that the outcome would be determined at a Sundance being made at the Turtle Mountains by Elder Francis Eagleheart Cree. It was decided that the Many Eagle Set Thirsty Dance Song, which had been passed down to Francis from when it was first called down from the Thunder in the early 1800’s at Buffalo Lodge Lake, North Dakota would be the song that should be given to Tony to bring to that sacred ceremony with the Anishenabek Nation. In August 2004, Tony travelled to Dunseath, North Dakota, with a delegation from the Métis Nation in Ontario and Manitoba. There, in an old traditional roundhouse, Elder Cree’s son in law, Anthony Lafromboise recited the story of the origin of the song. Then many songs were sung until the time that Elder Francis Cree determined it was time to give the Thirsty Dance song to Tony in ceremony. A year later, he brought that song to the drum in the Nation-to-Nation Ceremony with the Anishenabek Nation at Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Tony Belcourt and Chief John Beaucage each brought their Nations’ songs to the drum, they smoked, all danced and had a feast in the traditional way.
This year, the Celebration of Nations presents a remarkable opportunity to celebrate the Nation-to-Nation relationship with the Anishinabek Nation and to commemorate the gift of the Michif song to Tony Belcourt to bring to the drum in a sacred ceremony on August 11, 2005. There he will be joined by leaders of the Robinson-Huron Treaty Alliance, Sundance Maker Anthony LaFromboise (son-in-law of Elder Francis Eagleheart Cree) and Mitch Case, Metis Nation of Ontario Youth Council President.
Together over the span of the weekend, they will tell the story of the Nehiyaw-Pwat/Iron Alliance between the Assiniboine, Cree, Saulteaux, Ojibwa and the Michif in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s. They will tell the story of the Many Eagle Set Thirsty Dance where 1500 warriors came together to avenge the taking of Michif Children by the Sioux. They will tell how that song was given by Elder Francis Cree to Tony Belcourt in a sacred ceremony at the Turtle Mountains so that he could bring that song to the drum in the Nation-to-Nation Unity ceremony held at Kettle and Stoney point First Nation. The story of the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 and its ramifications on present day constitutional rights and claims of the First Nations and the Metis people will be told. So too will the story of emergence of the Metis communities around Lake Huron and their historic relationship with the First Nations communities with whom the people share kinship ties, culture, values and territory.
Tony Belcourt, O.C., LL.D (Hon.)
Accomplished leader & executive; strategic planner; solutions oriented; skilled communicator, writer, director, producer
Tony Belcourt has a strong reputation as a successful leader and innovative public relations and communications specialist including as a writer, director and producer of film, video and audio productions. In 1968 he was Vice-President and Managing Director of Team Products, Alberta and Mackenzie, a cooperative of 500 Indigenous artists and crafts people in those regions. As founding President of the Native Council of Canada in 1971, he was instrumental in creating a national voice for Canada’s Métis and Non-Status Indians and his efforts were an important contributing factor in the Métis being recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982, as one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Tony is a well-respected negotiator and as founding President of the Métis Nation of Ontario in 1994, he helped to achieve recognition of existing Métis Constitutional rights in the 2003 Supreme Court decision in R v. Powley. An experienced organizer, motivator and event planner, he successfully founded and developed Métis representative organizations that today manage 10s of millions of dollars in various social, economic and cultural programs and are engaged in self-government recognition and nation-to-nation agreements with federal and provincial governments.
Recognized internationally for representation of the Métis Nation at the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS), Tony is a champion of access to, and the appropriate use of, ICT’s by Indigenous people. He is Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council at OCAD University.
Tony received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Public Service in 2006; received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Lakehead University in 2010 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, 2013. He has been carried by the Pipe since 2004. Now regarded as a Métis elder, Tony Belcourt is often invited to present on Indigenous culture, history and traditions.
Mitchell Case, President- Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council/ PCMNO Youth Representative
Mitch is a proud Métis youth from the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community. Mitch was elected and President of the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. Additionally, Mitch is a member of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Mitch believes that Métis children and youth need to be provided with strong connections to their communities, elders, knowledge elders and cultural practices that for the basis of strong and healthy cultural identity. Mitch works to ensure that Métis youth know that they have a right to be heard and fights to ensure that Métis governments are respectful and responsive to the voices of young people. Mitch spearheaded the #beadworkrevolution, an online movement of Métis youth reclaiming and revitalizing their Métis beadwork traditions, with hundreds of participants including dozens of first time bead-workers.
Mitch is a former member of the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities and in 2014 was awarded the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers and in January 2018, Mitch was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.Mitch holds a BA in History from Algoma University and focuses his work on the history of Métis communities in the Upper Great Lakes. Mitch is the Director of Student Services at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, an Anishinaabe post secondary institute in Sault Ste Marie. Mitch is a first degree Midewiwin in the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.
Anthony R. LaFromboise, Federally enrolled tribal member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
- Pipe carrier: 51 years
- Sweat lodge sponsor- 39 years
- Thirsty Dance Lodge (Plains Ojibwa) sponsor 36 years
- Sundancer – 51
- Metiawin – (Trade Dance) – 15years
- Birch bark scroll keeper and storyteller- 30 years
- Big drum keeper- 18 years,
- Mediwiwin 4th degree(grand medicine lodge) member- 12 years
- Traditional pow-wow dancer- 37 years
- Whistle carrier (veteran)- 31 years
- Eagle staff carrier (veteran)- 16 years (Knieu kipazoon “eagle belt” society).
The following list of elders, well known to myself and to their respective communities within the Neypawat boundary area (49th parallel) that separate the United States and Canada. Most of the elders I am related to by blood, marriage, or thru cultural/tribal experience. In all cases they were my teachers and I their oshkabewis (helper). When I was much younger, I lived with and spent considerable time within their presence. They taught me how to sing, about manhood, responsibilities, and introduced me to the spirit realm. The provided me rites of passage and permission to speak, teach, sponsor ancient rites (ceremony). Their responsibilities they had during their adult life now became mine. List of names of my elders:
Mary Kakinawash (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Belcourt, North Dakota
Josephine (Saasukswaa) Martell-LaFromboise (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Belcourt, North Dakota
Art Raining Bird (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
Sam Windy Boy Sr. (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
Joe Small Boy (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
Joe Faval (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
Henry Wolf Child (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
John Ogemageshig Johnson (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
George Watson (deceased), Rocky Boy, Montana
Phillip Long Claws, Red Pheasant Reserve, Saskatchewan
Charles Cree Jr. (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Dunseith, North Dakota
Thomas Pierre Little Shell (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Dunseith, North Dakota
Francis Cree (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Dunseith, North Dakota
Rose Machippiness-Cree (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Dunseith, North Dakota
Louis Cree (deceased), Turtle Mountain, Dunseith, Reservation, North Dakota
George Gordon, Swan Lake Reserve, Manitoba
Marie-Bonop Gordon (deceased), Swan Lake Reserve, Manitoba
John Daniels (deceased), Long Plains Reserve, Manitoba
Joe and Emma Great Walker (deceased), Turtle Mountain, Belcourt, North Dakota
James Great Walker (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Belcourt, North Dakota
Joe Fayant (deceased), Turtle Mountain Reservation, Belcourt, North Dakota
Tom Still Day (deceased), Red Lake Reservation, Ponemah, Minnesota
Anna Gibbs, Red Lake Reservation, Battle River community, Minnesota
Ted Kewanskag (deceased), Round Lake Coummunity, St. Croix, Wisconsin
Elmer Cloud (deceased), Bad River Reservation, Ashland, Wisconsin
Pine Shomin (deceased), Cross Village, Michigan
Little Elk (deceased), Saginaw Reservation, Michigan
Ambrose Little Ghost (deceased), Spirit Lake Reservation, North Dakota
Paul Little (deceased), Spirit Lake Reservation, North Dakota
Jerome Four Star (deceased), Fort Peck Reservation, Montana
Nelson Toulouse, Ginoozhe Doodem (Pike Clan)
- Clean and sober for 29 years
- Over 40 years of experience in administration, governance, leadership and facilitation
- Proud father of 6 children, grandfather of 5 and great-grandfather to 2 boys
- Past Chief of Sagamok Anishnawbek serving one term from 1990 – 1992
- In recent years, Nelson has been a member of Sagamok Justice and Governance committees. He says that he appreciates the policies in place in the Sagamok organization and understands the sharp line between politics and administration.
- During Nelson’s past term as Chief from 1990-1992, under his leadership,
Sagamok exercised its jurisdiction by dropping the imposed name of Spanish River #5 given to it by Canada in favour of claiming its traditional name of Sagamok. It was at this time that Sagamok’s logo that is so recognizable and cherished was developed. It is still in use today.
Sagamok took control of its traditional lands when Sagamok community members marched into the Fort LaCloche tract, held ceremony and Nelson read the declaration that took control over those ancient lands back from Canada.
Sagamok turned its attention to policing and justice issues, resulting in working together with three other communities to see the establishment of the Anishinabek Police Services.
Sagamok forced the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources to the discussion table after lifting provincially licensed fishing nets from its fishing waters on the shores of Lake Huron. He says not only did the province come to the table, it created the understanding and respect for Sagamok’s fisheries, forcing non-Indigenous hunters to find other areas to harvest their catches.
- Other experience:
- Administrator, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the North Shore Tribal Council
- Deputy Grand Council Chief for the Anishinabek Nation
- Chief Commissioner of the Mushkegowuk Onkwehon:we Language Commission of Ontario (continues)
• Member of the Assembly of First Nation (AFN)’s Chiefs Committee on Languages