Despite a strict injunction granted to Peigan chief and council blocking Peigan Nation members from protesting the construction of an RCMP building in Brocket, the general population endorsed Chief Peter Strikes With A Gun in tribal elections held Nov. 30.
Strikes With A Gun was returned for his third term as chief, only two months after successfully obtaining an injunction from a Calgary court that forbade any member from gathering at the construction site.
Protests began at the site in August, shortly after construction began. Angela Wolf Tail (named in the injunction) had set up a tipi adjacent to the site to protest its use for the RCMP building.
Jimmy Wolf Tail, her father, had passed away in 1981. He had been instrumental in bringing the first Alcoholic?s Anonymous to the reserve, and a halfway house built in his name had stood on the property until a fire two summers ago had destroyed it.
?We want something (on this site), with healing to it, not a lock up that will degrade our people more,? she said.
She received blessings from the Elders to protest the site, which inspired a greater issue: Why not have tribal police?
?This started off for my father, but as we talked to more people we realized they don?t want to see the RCMP here,? said Wolf Tail. ?We want the police to be ours, not the government?s. We want our own police.?
Wolf Tail?s tipi became the centre of discontent for Peigan Nation people. The tipi came down a few weeks before the injunction was issued, but not before $150,000 worth of work completed on the site had been destroyed.
?No charges were laid. That?s the reason why the injunction was put in place,? said Rick Yellow Horn, Peigan Nation executive co-ordinator.
?[Construction] pretty much has to start from scratch now and the band has to absorb the extra cost.?
Construction began anew in November. Original plans were to open the building in spring 2001 or earlier, but construction is behind schedule and Yellow Horn isn?t optimistic about the time frame.
Although the injunction prevents protests at the construction site, that hasn?t stopped the talk.
?They should have put it to a referendum,? said one man. ?The majority of people thought it should go to a referendum.?
Strikes With A Gun admits the injunction was a severe step, but a necessary one.
?It was a very alarming situation. People were in fear of deliberate threats placed upon people in our community,? he said. The injunction named seven people specifically, but also Jane Doe and John Doe.
?Nobody on the reserve can protest it any more,? said one woman. ?They have it to the point where if I say anything and they?ll go after me.
?I really want tribal police,? said the woman. ?Siksika, Kainai, and South Peigan have it. Why do the Peigan have to be under the rule of the RCMP for the next 25 years??
The Peigan Nation has signed another 10-year agreement with the RCMP, said Strikes With A Gun. ?But we do have the option of looking at policing under the agreement,? he added.
However, tribal police, as far as Strikes With A Gun is concerned, is not an option at this point.
?We?re all related. Tribal police would not be practical as far as I know,? he said.