Chronology of National Chiefs
National Indian Brotherhood/Assembly of First Nations
Walter Dieter (born May 31, 1916; died Sept. 7, 1988) was a Cree of the Peepeekisis Indian Band in Saskatchewan. Mr. Dieter was one of the founders of the National Indian Brotherhood and served as the first National Chief from 1968 to 1970.
George Manuel (born Feb. 21, 1921; died Nov. 15, 1989) was a member of the Shuswap Nation of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia. His lifelong struggle was to help his people re¬establish their Aboriginal and treaty rights to self-government. He was National Chief from 1970 to 1976.
Noel Starblanket is a Cree of the Starblanket Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan. In 1971, he was elected Chief of his community at the age of 24, the youngest Chief in Canada at the time. Mr. Starblanket served two terms as National Chief from 1976 to 1980.
Delbert Riley is a member of the Chippewas of the Thames reserve in Ontario. He served as Chief of his community and president of the Union of Ontario Indians before being elected as National Chief from 1980 to 1982.
David Ahenakew (born July 28, 1933; died March 12, 2010) was a Cree member of the Ahtahkakoop Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan. He served in the Canadian Armed forces for 16 years prior to entering First Nations politics. Mr. Ahenakew was leader of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for 10 years. He served as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1982 to 1985.
Georges Erasmus is a member of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Erasmus has made a lifelong contribution to the welfare and community of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. From 1976 to 1983, he served as the president of the Indian Brotherhood of Northwest Territories/Dene Nation. He subsequently served two terms as National Chief from 1985 to 1991.
Ovide Mercredi is a Cree from Grand Rapids, Manitoba. Mr. Mercredi began his role as a political advocate for First Nations in the late 1960s. He is a negotiator, activist, lawyer and believer in the Gandhi approach to political activism. He served two terms as National Chief from 1991 to 1997.
Phil Fontaine is Anishinabe from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. He has dedicated most of his life to the advancement of First Nations people. Mr. Fontaine served his first term from 1997-2000.
Matthew Coon Come is a member of the Mistissini Cree Nation in Northern Quebec. Mr. Coon Come was first elected as Grand Chief and chairman of the Cree Regional Authority in 1987. Re-elected by the James Bay Cree people through four successive terms, he became known internationally for his efforts to defend the fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples. Mr. Coon Come was National Chief from 2000 to 2003.
Phil Fontaine was re-elected in July 2003 and served two terms as National Chief until 2009.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is a Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation in B.C. In July 2009, A-in-chut was elected to a three-year mandate as National Chief to the Assembly of First Nations. He was re-elected for a second term in July 2012.