Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence on Dec. 27, 2012 (left) and on January 24, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
She's now giving press conferences after being taken to hospital to check her general health, dehydration, possible malfunctioning organs, and a reported 20-pound weight loss.
Those are words.
Judging from the more famous hunger strikers at Northern Ireland's Maze prison during British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's campaign to bring the IRA to heel, Chief Spence is made of sterner stuff than those Irishmen.
After 44 days of no food (not even fish broth), Bobby Sands looked a wreck and adamantly refused to change his mind.
Thatcher, as was her wont, wouldn't budge either, and resisted the urgings of lesser-lights to force-feed Bobby Sands.
Pity our PM, Stephen Harper, wouldn't take a lesson from Thatcher, and refuse to meet with Chief Spence under the blackmail conditions she imposed.
What Harper could have said to Chief Spence's demands is that if she wanted to starve herself, that was her choice and as far as he was concerned her hunger strike was - as was said during Bobby Sands' hunger strike - a self-liquidating problem.
After 66 days of fasting, Bobby Sands was dead.
IRA tactics for attracting attention changed after that. No point in starving oneself if no one pays attention.
Unlike Sands, Chief Spence won.
She has attracted a lot of attention. Give her that.
It hasn't done much to alleviate problems at Attawapiskat which, as the country has since learned, has received oodles of federal money with no accounting of how it's been spent. And several millions of De Beers diamond money for the courtesy of mining on native land.
Chief Spence, apparently, as well has having an extraordinary metabolic system that withstands starvation, is a lousy administrator and manager.
The housing on her reserve is abysmal, likely because homes are communal property and no one gives a damn about self-improvement.
That doesn't apply to all reserves, but it seems to apply to Attawapiskat, where an audit of more than $100 million funnelled there by the federal government showed 80% of the money couldn't be accounted for.
Certainly the buck for that dereliction should stop at the chief.
There are some 600 First Nation chiefs in Canada, which is ridiculous when you think of it.
Even the idea of "First Nations" is misleading. Tribes aren't "nations."
Yes, historically some of the Indian tribes of the past (we no longer call them "Indians," which I think is a pity because it was a term of respect and pride) verged on being a "nation."
The Iroquois confederacy falls into this category.
There are those who think that if Europeans hadn't arrived in North America when they did, the Iroquois would have expanded west across the continent.
The six tribes of the Iroquois confederacy were the world's first NATO alliance: Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and finally the Tuscarora of Florida.
Superimposed on Chief Spence's curious road show, the Idle No More movement caught the attention of politicians, media and the people whose travel plans were violated by road and railway blockages that the police did little to deter.
What Stephen Harper would like is Aboriginals integrated into Canadian society. What Indian chiefs want is more money.
Guess who will win?