As the constitutional issue was convulsing Indian Country, the National Indian Brotherhood itself faced a rising wave of demands for reform. There was a sense that local and regional voices were not being heard and that the brotherhood was becoming increasingly centralized. So, when it met in Ottawa in 1982, a new organization, calling itself the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), emerged to represent Registered Indians in Canada. Based loosely on the structure of the old NIB, the AFN was to have a national chief and regionally elected vice-chiefs. In some ways, though, the new organization was much like its predecessor. It continued to fight for change at the constitutional level and, in particular, for the recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights as a fundamental principle. Also, like the NIB, it was soon criticized for its centralization and insensitivity to the variety of constituents whom it claimed to represent. In 1985, members from the Prairie provinces decided to break away and form their own organization, the Prairie Treaty Nations Alliance, which they felt could focus more effectively on issues faced by members of the Numbered Treaties.

Written By

Anthony J. Hall
Professor of Globalization Studies
University of Lethbridge

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