06/12/2012 10:51 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Bill Erasmus to run for AFN chief

Bill Erasmus, chief of the Dene Nation, announced Monday he will be running for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Erasmus is also a regional chief of the AFN for the Northwest Territories.

“I had many, many people come forward asking me to take the leadership position and after a lot of thought, I'm willing to do that,” he said.

“ I think the fact that I've been a leader for many years gives people comfort, the fact that people know who I am and that there won't be a big transition is important and so people are asking me to get involved at that level.”

At least four others are running against current AFN chief Shawn Atleo. They include Terry Nelson, a chief in Manitoba; Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk and president of the Quebec Native Women's Association; Joan Jack, a lawyer from Berens River First Nation in Manitoba and Pam Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and Toronto professor.

Bill Erasmus left for Ottawa Monday to hand deliver his nomination papers.

The election will be held July 18th in Toronto. To win, candidates need the most votes from chiefs across Canada.

Erasmus was recently acclaimed to serve another term as chief of the Dene Nation. He has held that position for almost 20 years. He has been a member of the AFN’s executive committee since 1987.

His brother Georges Erasmus served as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1985 to 1991.