to reach out and grasp that which is needed
for our survival. There is a longing among
the young of my nation to secure for them-
selves and their people the skills that will
provide them with a sense of worth and
purpose. They will be our new warriors.
Their training will be much longer and
more demanding than it was in olden days.
The long years of study will demand more
determination, separation from home and
family will demand endurance. But they
will emerge with their hand held forward,
not to receive welfare, but to grasp the
place in society that is rightly ours.
I am a chief, but my power to make war
is gone, and the only weapon left to me
is speech. It is only with tongue and speech
that I can fight my people's war."
by Chief Dan George
Chief Dan George, OC (July 24, 1899–September 23, 1981) was a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh, a Salish First Nations people located in Burrard Inlet, British Columbia. Chief George was also an Academy Award-nominated actor and an author.
Acting careerIn 1960, when he was already 60 years of age, he got his first job acting in a CBC Television series, Cariboo Country, as the character "Ol' Antoine". He performed the same role in a Walt Disney Studios movie, Smith!, adapted from an episode in this series (based on Breaking Smith's Quarter Horse, a novella by Paul St. Pierre). At the age of 71, George won several awards for his role in the film Little Big Man, including a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued to act in other films, such as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Harry and Tonto, and Americathon, and on television, including a role in the miniseries Centennial, based on the book by James A. Michener.
George acted the role of Rita Joe's father in George Ryga's stage play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, in performances at Vancouver, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Washington.
During his acting career, Chief Dan George always worked to promote better understanding by non-aboriginals of the First Nations people. His soliloquy, Lament for Confederation (full text), a riveting indictment of the appropriation of native territory by white colonialism, was performed at the city of Vancouver's celebration of the Canadian centennial in 1967. This speech is credited with escalating native political activism in Canada, as well as touching off widespread pro-native sentiment among non-natives.
In 1971, George was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
He died in Vancouver in 1981 at the age of 82.