Can division among its leaders achieve more for Canada's First Nations than a united front?
Perhaps. Here's how.
The rise of the grassroots Idle No More movement has resulted in several chiefs publicly expressing frustration with the Assembly of First Nations and a lack of progress in talks with the federal government.
The popular uprising has taken on a life of its own and, as such things usually do, attracted more radical elements along with moderate voices.
Some have suggested AFN Chief Shawn Atleo may be facing a mutiny. Indeed, cracks are beginning to show, and Atleo announced Monday he is taking a medical leave because of the stress.
But, by comparison to the more militant protesters, Atleo is more than ever looking like the voice of reason.
Until the Idle movement came along, he had quietly achieved more for Canada's First Nations than any other national native leader in recent memory. Then, all of a sudden, he was made to look like a sell-out.
The movement may have temporarily knocked the wind out of his sails, but who do you think Ottawa is more likely to negotiate with - a level-headed proven commodity, or an angry mob?
Atleo can use that to his advantage, and thus, to the advantage of all Canada's First Nations.
It's called changing the system from within instead of fighting with it from the outside.
The combination of public protest and top-level resolve has already put native issues at the forefront of the national agenda like they haven't been since the Oka crisis of 1990.
- Managing Editor