Culture and Society

Native Activist and Warrior Society Leader, Milton Born With A Tooth, Dies at 61

Milton Born With A Tooth, Peigan Lonefighter’s Society

Milton Born With A Tooth, a respected Native activist and leader of the Ni’taiitsskaiks (Lonefighter Society) has passed away at the age of  61.

Born With A Tooth, of the Peigan Nation in Alberta, died peacefully on Saturday, while surrounded by family at Chinook Care hospice in Calgary, after a brief battle with Stage 4 bowel cancer.

According to APTN News, his niece, Nicole Eshkakogan said a celebration of his life will be held during his birthday June 9 -11 at the community hall in Brocket, AB.

Born With A Tooth gained widespread notoriety in 1990 when the Alberta government sought to dam the Oldman River, which would have flooded Peigan burial grounds on the northern Great Plains.

Born With A Tooth led the Blackfoot Warrior Society in opposing the Oldman River Dam.

When the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction forbidding the attempt by the Peigan Lonefighters Society to divert the Oldman River, with a bulldozer, Born With A Tooth fired two warning shots into the air forcing police to retreat.

Following the 33-hour standoff with 80 RCMP officers, Born With A Tooth was arrested in Calgary and charged with weapons offenses. He was sentenced to 16 months in jail for the incident.

His use of a firearm helped stimulate a very active debate, especially among First Nations activists, about whether or not armed resistance was justifiable in any circumstances.

In 2001, after years of negotiation and confrontation, the federal and provincial governments would ultimately agree to pay the Peigan First Nation and its members $64.3 million, acknowledging that the band owned the riverbed and the money would be paid as an annual lease.

Eshkakogan said if it wasn’t for her uncle’s efforts and the national attention it received, the nation likely would have never seen that concession.

Environmental activists including Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Mohawk activist Ellen Gabriel shared condolences for Born With A Tooth’s loved ones on social media.

Born With A Tooth’s obituary describes him as a “lifelong protector of the Blackfoot way of life, and the lands and waters of the earth.”

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