Idle No More protesters participate in a drumming circle on Friday January 11/2013 at Tom Davies Square in Sudbury, Ontario.
Credits: GINO DONATO/THE SUDBURY STAR/QMI AGENCY
The planned action could include a number of blockades and associated protests across the country.
The chiefs, including representatives from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, said Friday demonstrations would be sparked on Jan. 16 if Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to get Gov. Gen. David Johnston to join discussions with aboriginal leaders.
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has been staging a personal protest at Ottawa's Victoria Island for 32 days, also shared this demand, but Harper did not agree to that.
Instead, Harper met with Atleo and others at his office in Ottawa on Friday afternoon despite protests outside in support of a discussion boycott.
Former AFN national chief Matthew Coon Come, who attended Friday's meeting, told reporters it was important to have dialogue with Harper to "lay down demands" made by First Nations leaders.
"At the end of the day, we have to talk. Face to face," Coon Come said prior to the talks. "There could be upheaval. I certainly do not want to be responsible for the death of anyone. ...Atleo does not have time to respond to his critics. I stand with him, I support him."
During Atleo's bid for a second term as national chief, other candidates raised issues about his approach to dealing with the government.
Pam Palmater, who placed second in the race for AFN national chief, suggested Atleo turned the AFN into the "Assembly of Assimilation."
Months later, Palmater has become a vocal activist for the growing Idle No More movement, which is led by grassroots First Nations protesters. She also suggested Atleo's job could be on the line if he agreed to meet with Harper on Friday, citing issues with a lack of a mandate from chiefs in the assembly.
Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day says the AFN is not in disarray, but he suggests a discussion about the organization's overarching framework may be needed.
"What we are faced with is not so much an organization that is no good. It is just time to modernize the organization. It is a new chapter in the organization we all rely on and depend on," Day said.
-with files from Jessica Hume