Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000


Copyright 2009 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


Two days prior to the federal election on June 28, 2004, the Lethbridge Herald ran an article in which the renowned Cree leader and former Member of Parliament Elijah Harper (Churchill electoral district in Manitoba, 1993-97) publicly implored First Nations people in Canada to participate in the forthcoming vote. Citing the recent demographic shift showing a dramatic increase in the number of young First Nations people nationally and their potential ability to influence provincial and federal electoral results, Harper proclaimed that "Native people have a positive role to play in this process." Referring to the endemic lack of voter turnout in recent elections without offering an explanation for these trends, he cautioned First Nations readers that simply following politics from the comfort of one's home was meaningless. Complaining about federal and provincial political matters was not an option, opined Harper, echoing in his concluding comments Michel Foucault's contention that power is contingent and exercised in spatial (political) contexts. Simply put, "You have to be involved [as a voter] ... to playa part in it [Canadian politics)."