From everything we hear from people, it seems clear there is a desire for fundamental changes in the way that we, as a nation, do business. People talk about how the entities act and the problems that are created. But where does the responsibility ultimately lie? With us.

The Crees who built these entities and other infrastructures of our nation are to be commended for their work. They had to learn the rules of a foreign culture in just a few years. They had no choice but to sink or swim.

Perhaps this is why we have had so many consultants for so long. Perhaps this is why we see and hear about so many problems. We all hear about them because we have to pay for the mistakes. Usually we hear about them through the grapevine, but not everybody talks about the problems in public. Even when there is discussion at annual assemblies, we only seem to see lip service or some “hats” being shuffled around. Is there real change? For the most part, people don’t seem to think so. They see the system consists of repeated dipping into the “sugerbowl” in an attempt to make things work. You have to ask if ultimately the costs will hurt our children or grandchildren. Will another river be sacrificed?

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come discusses the economic problems in a recent letter to Cree leaders (see News, page 5). He calls for “major changes” to Cree economic enterprises. “We must be more accountable to the Cree people,” he says.

Even our leaders recognize we need a system with real checks and balances. And even more importantly, we should implement more of the principles which make successful companies survive. If a company like IBM lost millions of dollars year after year, heads would roll. As Matthew Coon Come writes, “If present advice does not include solutions, then we should seek new advice.”

Remember, there is an entire generation of Crees who understand this new Cree world. Let us put them to work and start taking responsibility for ourselves. It is selfish to expect a few to carry the burdens of the nation alone. The proposed Cree Nation Gathering would be a good place to begin dialogue and implement solutions.

Let’s all work for real change so we can all participate in the well-being and future of our nation.