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Buffalo Bull's Back Fat - Chief
Painter - George Catlin 1832

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)

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. There had been no attempt to even respect sovereignty. The geologists and scientists had already been all over the north cataloguing the resources. Only a few signatures were obtained on Treaty no. 8, and northern residents would later claim that these people had no  authority  to sign away their land. This claims that Treaties 8 and 11 were not valid and did not extinguish Aboriginal land ownership would become the basis on which the Supreme Court 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.

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


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