the northern treaties
Treaty 8 - 1899: Cree & Chipwyan

Treaty 8: Northern half of Alberta, Northeast quarter of BC, Northwest corner of Saskatchewan, and the area south of Great Slave Lake in NWT.
(Cree and Chipwyan areas)

There was little interest from the northern First Nations in signing a treaty, but government pressed it because it wanted to open the new resource frontier in the north, and, under the precedent that had been legally set, it had to have the treaties signed to extinguish Aboriginal title to the land. 

This was an obvious grab for mineral wealth.The geologists and scientists had already been all over the north cataloguing the resources. There had been no attempt to even respect native sovereignty.

Only a few signatures were obtained on Treaty no. 8, and many northern residents would later claim that these people had no  authority  to sign away their land.

By this claim, Treaties 8 and 11 were not valid and did not extinguish Aboriginal land ownership, and this would become the basis on which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that  land claims could be filed by the Dene and Métis.

Reserves were not set up in the north.

People continued to move seasonally from place to place until well into the 1950s, when they eventually moved into settlements like Tulita. But many move into tent or log house camps in the wilderness for many months of the year, to hunt and fish the old way.

Treaty No. 11 in 1921 followed the same sort of procedure after oil was discovered at Norman Wells.

At Tulita (Fort Norman) the clear water of the Great Bear River flows into the mighty Mackenzie. The airstrip behind the town is the only way to get to the outside world.

Mary Wilson making dried meat at Rat River, as it has been done
for thousands of years, in this most remote part of Canada

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Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 2007