Matriarchs revoke chief’s status

Clan matriarchs have removed another Haida hereditary chief after he showed support for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

Clan matriarchs have removed another Haida hereditary chief after he showed support for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

“Roy Jones Jr. will no longer represent our clan as Chief, any leadership role or clan representative,” says a letter signed Sept. 20 by eight matriarchs of the K’aadasga Kiigawaay, or Raven Wolf Clan of Tanu.

“From this day forward he will only be a clan member.”

The letter is also signed by Arthur Pearson, the clan’s new chief-designate and spokesperson, as well as his alternate, Robert Russ. Addressed to Haida leaders and citizens, the letter also says Pearson will continue as a designate until he is potlatched as the new clan chief.

Speaking last Friday, Roy Jones Jr. said revoking his title by vote was a break with tradition and the Haida Accord.

“Traditionally, you potlatch out,” he said. “You don’t just have a vote with a bunch of people and say, “You’re not a chief anymore.”

Jones Jr. also said that not all the matriarchs in his clan were consulted, including his mother and his sisters’ auntie, who adopted him.

Referring to the Haida Accord, Jones Jr. also said the move is out of keeping with article three, which commits all Haida Nation representatives to resolving conflicts cooperatively and internally.

Since the matriarchs’ letter went public, Jones Jr. said he has received media calls from as far as Nova Scotia.

Roy Jones Jr. is the third hereditary chief to have his title revoked after joining the Haida Hereditary Chiefs of North Haida Gwaii LLP a group that backed Enbridge’s bid to federal permits for Northern Gateway this spring.

Only four members of the eight-person company were potlatched chiefs at the time.

Of those four, two others, Carmen Goertzen and Francis Ingram, had their titles revoked at a potlatch held by the Yahgulaanaas Janaas of Daadens and Iitjaaw Yaahl Naas clans in Old Massett on Aug. 13.