MNN. August 7, 2006. Milton Born with a Tooth showed up at my house at 9:00 pm. last Friday. He had a very important colonial tale to tell. Milton Born With a Tooth is a Blackfoot Indigenous man from Piegan in Alberta. He went to jail for four and a half years for trying to divert the Old Man River back to its natural course in 1990. As a “Lone Fighter” he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The weapon was a bulldozer. In 1921 the river had been diverted to an irrigation canal for the benefit of non-native farmers in southern Alberta. The Blackfoot of Piegan did not give their consent for this diversion and had always protested it.
From August 3rd to September 7th 1990 Milton worked. He took a bulldozer and alone started to dig a ditch so that the river would return to its natural course. 75 RCMP officers descended on him, followed by government officials and a SWAT team. Altogether 200 armed police arrived to “overpower” Milton. Was this overkill or what? Initially he was going to get 56 years in jail. He got out in 1995 serving the last part of his sentence in the Kainai Correction Institute on the Blood Reserve near Lethbridge Alberta.
When Milton was asked where he got the plan to divert the river, he said, “I got it from the beaver”. The old people gave an offering to the caretaker of the river. “If he can do it without money and a weapon, then I could do it too”, declared Milton. He used the laws for safeguarding traditional medicines. He said that the culture of the river provides our understanding of the basis of where we come from and who we are. He tried to divert the river to show that we are still in touch with nature. He had lobbied and gotten national and international scientific support to stop this irrigation project. He even got National Geographic to support him.
While Milton was in jail, the elders and environmentalists took it to court. In 1991 the Supreme Court ruling came down. The Piegan got $64 million, half from the federal government and half from the provincial government. In future, to do anything on the Old Man River they have to consult the Piegan people. The first offer went to the people for a vote. They said “No”. It was taken back. Another clause was added that they would take $10 million of it to distribute to the people who were poor. This was agreed upon. In 2002 the agreement was finalized.
In the meantime when Milton got out of jail he went to court. He got an injunction that the provincial government of Alberta had no right to divert the Old Man River in the first place.
Once the money came to the Blackfoot, then troubles began. All kinds of sharks descended on the Piegan people. Alberta and Indian Affairs recommended that the chief and four councilors hire a young financial advisor, Lili Kostic, for $1.5 million per year to serve them. She is Indian Affairs ideal, a Pamela Anderson look-alike. This is what Indian Affairs thinks a “nouveau riche” Indian man should want.
In the agreement the CIBC holds the $54 million in a block account. Remember them? They were in the Enron scandal. They didn’t come out of it too clean.
Meanwhile the community can’t get a financial report. Five non-native consultants were also hired, one from the “World Evangelistic Church”. They’re there to pacify the Indigenous people. Indian Affairs is up to its old tricks. All these “helpers” [who are helping themselves to the people’s money] are being paid from the education, housing, health, economic development and other social programs. They have now depleted all the funds. This is when Indian Affairs decided to put the community into receivership and took over the management of their financial and all their affairs. This is totally disgusting and all too familiar.
Throughout this saga the community was involved emotionally in the Old Man River dam issue. This $64 million was supposed to help them. Suddenly these outsiders got parachuted into their community by Indian Affairs. No reports are filed. The people don’t know what’s going on.
The chief and council are flying around and incurring all kinds of expenses. In March 2005 a councillor, Edwin Small Legs, sat in a meeting with the CIBC’s Joe Marino in Calgary. While in the meeting the councilors and the chief heard Joe Marino complain the he was “feeling the hit” and was worried because of the other people involved. Marino turned around to Small Legs and asked him, “What will I do with this?” The pressure was on because of the questions being raised by the people.
Small Legs asked, “What do you mean?” Everything stopped. The whole community was asking too many questions throughout.
In December 2005 Joe Marino refused to give any documents on how he was handling their funds. The community found out a whole lot of money was missing through embezzlement by the chief, Peter Strikes With a Gun, and others. The chief started to panic. In late May 2005 the chief told Milton, “I don’t like being called a crook”. He decided to resign. He went in front of the people and sang a tear jerking finale. Five days later he returned. Indian Affairs had gotten a court injunction appointing him as the chief.
Then there was an election. Indian Affairs knew that Peter Strikes With a Gun was going to lose. The morning of the election, at 9:00 am. Indian Affairs in Calgary got a court order and quickly sent it to Ottawa. It was sent back and arrived at Piegan by 3:43 pm the same day. What happened is that two-thirds of the way into the election, the RCMP showed up with the court order and confiscated all the ballot boxes.
The community freaked out. Indian Affairs had used three community women to take out this injunction. In the end these women did something that impeded the will of the people. The community erupted into chaos.
Edwin Small Legs, a councilor, called a friend in Ottawa, Walter Rudnicki, who found somebody to help. In the end nothing was done about the corrupt non-election.
From September until December 7th 2005, Edwin Small Legs finally decided to come clean. Things were going crazy. Everybody was getting harassed. “What do I do?” he asked Milton. A media conference was called and Milton spoke about the situation. Documents were presented showing the duplicity of Joe Marino of CIBC with the chief and four of the councilors. Edwin got scared. He was afraid he was going to be the fall guy.
The following day the financial advisor, Lili Kostic, charged Milton with threatening to kill her and he daughter. Milton went to the RCMP. He decided to play dumb. He was afraid that because he’s an Indian in a racist community, the white woman would be considered more credible.
Then Milton went to the chief of police. He released all the documents he had and charged her with blackmailing him. With the knowledge of the cops Milton reported that Kostic gave him money. She showed him her panties in her car. Milton swears he never took her up on her offer. He reported these incidents each time to the RCMP.
Since then this case has been under investigation. In April 2006 the RCMP brought evidence of financial mismanagement to the Commercial Crimes Division in Calgary. The preliminary investigation is finished and there is a strong case of fraud against these people.
On July 5, 2006, Milton held a press conference announcing that he had charged everybody with fraud – the chief, four councilors, two financial officers, two financial institutions, three Indian Affairs officials and the 6 consultants. One of those charged was Neil Sharp Adze. One week later he killed himself. Indian Affairs knows how to get their hooks into a guy like Sharp Adze, get him to compromise himself and scare him into thinking he is he’s going to be blamed for everything. They are partly to blame for what happened. Look, folks! Whatever wrong you may have done in the past, don’t kill yourself. You can make amends to the people. You owe it to future generations to do what you can to make things better. You don’t owe your soul to that criminal organization called “Indian Affairs”.
Milton went to the constituency office of the Minister of Indian Affairs, Jim Prentice. He spoke to his Chief of Staff. At this meeting an offer was made that they would look into the chief’s resignation issue, the RCMP’s interference in the election and the dealings of the financial officers. It is obvious the RCMP needs training on who they should take orders from. Do they have to be patsies for every crook going? It looks like things haven’t changed since the bad old days when Duncan Campbell Scott had free reign to depose Indigenous governments left, right and center.
On his journey to other Indigenous communities across Canada, Milton has found this kind of corruption everywhere in almost every Indigenous community. He is asking for a full public inquiry into Indian Affairs and its crimes against his people. We can hope that the Canadian public will support his cause. Indian Affairs is using their tax money for illegal purposes.
Milton wants to take water from the Atlantic Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean. He will mix them together and pour it into the Old Man River.
The way things are going, we are shocked when we hear that someone in government is honest!
MNN Mohawk Nation News