By Sean Myers
Chief Charles Weasel Head first invited Harper to visit the Blood reserve and be inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship following his 2008 official government apology to First Nations people for the many abuses of the residential school system.
“I am deeply grateful for the honour you have bestowed upon me today,” Harper told the crowd at Red Crow Park in Stand Off. “It is an experience I will never forget. It is a bond of friendship which will inspire me in my service to you and all Canadians.”
The Kainai Chieftainship was launched in 1919 and established formally in 1950 as a bridge between native and non-native communities while preserving the Blood Tribe’s heritage and history.
Past inductions have included Prince Charles, Pope John Paul II, historian Pierre Burton as well as Alberta premiers Peter Lougheed, Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach.
By Lauren Krugel
An elder then pronounced Harper's new name in the Blackfoot language—Chief Speaker—and gave the prime minister a light push on his back, causing him to stumble a few steps forward.
Later, Chief Charles Weasel Head said the title was chosen because Harper "speaks as the chief. His words are words that come from his position."
He said the tribe made Harper a chief because of the residential schools apology he issued in 2008.
"I think it sort of set the direction and the tone of rebuilding the relationship with First Nations," said Weasel Head.
After his name was announced, Harper sat cross-legged in front of a medicine man, who smeared yellow paint on the politician's face and hands and drew bright red lines on either cheek. The medicine man shook the headdress on either side of Harper before affixing it to his head.
I said, "Looks goofy, to be sure. But if a tribe does it, is it wrong?" The response: "It's not right or wrong. Just Harper looking foolish, as usual."
If I were Harper, I think I would've declined the headdress part of the honor. Non-Indians in headdresses don't look dignified, they look silly.
For a similar honor, see Obama Joins Crow Nation.