Friends, it’s always saddening to hear of the kind of “leadership” we get these days.

Recently News/North had a story of one of the NWT chiefs facing charges of assault and impaired driving.

One has to wonder just how low the depths we have to go to even get back to what we once had.

In the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, we Dene made every effort to stand up for our land, even to the point of stopping a major pipeline. Being Dene really meant something!

As a columnist with this paper I often have to play devil’s advocate, going out on a limb now and then to get some kind of feedback from a largely apathetic public.

I also hold many personal views, but when the voting is done and counted I always go with the majority by recognizing and respecting the newly-elected chief and council.

My father was chief of Radelie Koe, Fort Good Hope, for a good quarter of a century.

Of course this is a big job, pretty well playing father to an entire small Northern community, with all of its ongoing and immediate needs. Our home was always open, for whatever people needed. This was the Dene way.

Of course people make mistakes, which they can be forgiven for. But when you hold public office you have to be like the late Gwich’in Chief Johnny Charlie, still widely admired throughout the North.

He was fond of saying that along with his morning coffee he had to ask himself, “What trouble have my people been up to overnight?”

Now that is the sign of a good leader, one who puts the people ahead of every kind of situation, good and bad.

Part of the problem is that we Dene let others – like the GNWT’s Municipal and Community Affairs – tell us what we should be doing.

Under the present situation, only a person who has done real time as a criminal – five years or longer in jail – cannot run for public office.

We need a thorough review of Northern leadership, and not one controlled by the government, to get back to real Dene leadership. 

Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at

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