Indian Claims Commission

Indian Claims Commission

May 20, 2005 11:01 ET

ICC/Government Should Negotiate With CHCN re: IR 100A

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 20, 2005) - Two separate but competing claims concerning Indian Reserve (IR) 100A were brought before the Indian Claims Commission (ICC). The first came from the James Smith Cree Nation at IR 100 and second from the Cumberland House Cree Nation at IR 20.

Indian Reserve 100A was originally surveyed in 1887, and the survey was confirmed by an Order-In-Council in 1889, "for the Indians of the Cumberland District (of Treaty No. 5)."

The Cumberland Band, represented by Chief John Cochrane and two headmen, Peter Chapman and Albert Flett, signed an adhesion to Treaty 5 on September 7, 1876.

Within two years of signing the adhesion, and before they had been assigned reserve land at Cumberland House, the band requested reserve land close to Fort a La Corne, some 250 kilometres to the southwest, where the land was more suited to agriculture. The government was reluctant to agree to this as Fort a La Corne is in the Treaty 6 area.

In 1882 some 2,200 acres were surveyed for the band at Cumberland Lake. This was well short of the 11,000 acres the band was entitled to under Treaty 5, and there was little or no suitable agricultural land in the 2,200 acres of IR 20. The demands for good land continued, but so did the concerns about placing Treaty 5 Indians in Treaty 6 territory.

By 1883 the government reconsidered its position. Realizing there was an 8,000-acre shortfall in the Cumberland House Band's treaty land entitlement, and no land suitable for agriculture at Cumberland Lake it warmed to the idea of a reserve near Fort a La Corne.

In 1885 two townships were set aside near Fort a la Corne for the "Indians of Cumberland". In 1887 the land was officially surveyed and 44,160 acres of IR 100A were allocated for the 345 members of the Cumberland Band, using the Treaty 6 formula of 640 acres per family of five.

While the government may have expected all of the band to move to Fort a La Corne, only about a third of them did, including Peter Chapman who had resigned as headman of the Cumberland House Band. They settled in the northern portion of IR 100A and the people looked on Peter Chapman as their leader. On a number of occasions the Indians at IR 100A had asked for a chief and council, but were refused; the government said the band had a chief and council residing at Cumberland House IR 20.

Before and after the Northwest Rebellion (1885), members of the Chakastaypasin Band at IR 98 were migrating to the new Cumberland reserve, including one of the headmen, Kahtapiskowat. They set up their camps in the southern part of IR 100A.

These Chakastaypasin members were never properly transferred into the Cumberland House Band, but two of them signed a surrender for the lower portion IR 100A (20,080 acres) in 1902. Chakastaypasin members were also involved in an agreement to amalgamate the remainder of
IR 100A and the people living there with the James Smith Band at IR 100. The consent of the entire Cumberland House Band, those at both IR 20 and IR 100A, was never sought nor obtained.

Both Cumberland House Cree Nation and James Smith Cree Nation brought claims concerning the surrender and amalgamation of IR 100A to the ICC for inquiry. A panel composed of the Chief Commissioner of the ICC, Renee Dupuis, and Commissioner Alan Holman conducted the inquiry and concluded there had been a breach of treaty and fiduciary obligations.

While there is some variation in these separate claims concerning IR 100A, the core issues of amalgamation and surrender are the same. The panel concluded that there are no outstanding lawful obligations owed to the James Smith Cree Nation, but that these are owed to the Cumberland House Cree Nation.

The panel recommends Canada accept the Cumberland House Cree Nation's claim and negotiate the outstanding lawful obligations resulting from the surrender and amalgamation of IR 100A.

The Indian Claims Commission was established in 1991 to examine, at the request of a First Nation, specific land claims rejected by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The Commission also provides mediation services, at any stage in negotiations, to help First Nations and the government settle specific land claims.

A copy of this news release and the report, are available on request. They can also be found on the Indian Claims Commission web site at http://www.indianclaims.ca

Contact Information

  • Indian Claims Commission
    Lucian Blair
    Director of Communications
    (613) 943-1607