Cree statesman, philosopher, honourary doctor and black belt Matthew Coon Come is expected to run for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

A source close to Coon Come said he is talking seriously about running. Candidates are to announce officially in early June. Current National Chief Phil Fontaine’s term expires in July.

The source said Coon Come’s platform is likely to be “a return to rights – Aboriginal rights, human rights.”

Some Cree officials are grumbling that in recent years the AFN’s priority has been simply lobbying for improved services to First Nations, with little concrete results.

“It’s just take the money and run.

They’re negotiating the terms of the administration of our poverty,” said the source.

“Matthew is a rights guy.”

A Toronto newspaper has reported that Coon Come, the former Cree Grand Chief, is one of four likely candidates for the $125,000 job of representing the AFN’s 630 member First Nations.

Fontaine is expected to seek a second term. He defeated Ovide Mercredi in 1997.

The other two candidates are expected to be Marilyn Buffalo, a Samson Cree who was president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and an advisor to Mercredi, and Lawrence Martin, Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Crees of northern Ontario.

Coon Come’s name was also floated as a possible candidate in the 1997 AFN election, but he didn’t go for it at that time.