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Briefing Notes for Paul Martin Regarding Reinstatement of Indian Bands

Introduction

Certain Indian bands that signed Treaties with the Crown and then lost their band status, lands, and memberships, may be identified in 3 main categories.

1. Unfinished Treaty business;
2. Indian Act Amendments in the 1950s; and
3. Ferguson Commission Report into Fraud and Speculation in Indian Lands.

A recent Indian Claims Commission report into fraud, speculation and
abandonment activities of federal officials and their associates. We have identified
several Indian bands that signed Treaties with the Crown that currently are being denied
recognition of their status, lands and memberships due to the above policies of the federal
government and the activities of its agents.

In several instances, federally appointed officials wrongfully stripped bands of
their status, lands and memberships, and then used associates to buy up the land. In other
cases, policy processes in place were not completed, thereby leaving Indians who had
signed Treaty without formal recognition or status.

The federal government has acknowledged a limited number of these cases and
thus have reinstated only a small handful of them with their status, lands and
membership.

Categories for Reinstatement of Bands

Several Indian bands have lost their band status, lands and membership as a result of the following:

1. Unfinished Treaty Business-

Ostensibly to speed up the signing of Treaties, Federal Treaty Commissioners temporarily amalgamated separate individual bands into larger “super bands”. The leaders of these separate individual bands all signed adhesions to the numbered Treaties. Once the Treaty making process was complete, the separate individual bands within the “super-band” were de-amalgamated and each received recognition by federal order-in-council.
For example, James Roberts Band entered into treaty six (6)
through the amalgamation of the Lac la Ronge Indian Band, Peter Ballantyne Band, and the Montreal Lake Indian Band. These were joined together to speed up their entry into Treaty 6 . Once the treaty making process was completed the James Roberts Band was replaced and an order-in-council was passed recognizing each of the three (3) bands separately. This resulted in the federal government recognizing each of the band’s own status, lands and membership provided for by the provisions of treaty six (6).

The Pas Mountain Band entered into treaty five (5) through the amalgamation of the Shoal Lake Band, the Red Earth Band, and the Pas Band. The same process ( an order-in-council ) was used to restore the Bands to their original condition, with each being recognized as individual bands consisting of its own status, land and membership.

For several Indian bands however, the process was abandoned in mid-stream. For example in Treaty 5, the Cumberland Indian Band was used to “temporarily” amalgamate the John Cochrane Band, the Pine Bluff Band, and the Peter Chapman Band. Each of these bands still wait for the order-in-council to recognize their individual band status, reserve lands and membership.

2. Indian Act Amendments

The Indian Act was amended in the 1950’s to provide a mandate for federal officials to terminate bands without any form of consent. This new law violated the inherent rights and powers of First Nations and the provisions of the treaties. In the Treaty 6 area, the amendments to the Indian Act resulted in the federal government terminating the Michel Band northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.

There was no formal consent given by the Michel Band Members
to:

• terminate their Indian band status;
• surrender their reserve lands; and
• transfer or terminate the Band members from the Michel Band.

The Indian Act amendments were later removed and some of the Michel Band members were reinstated ( but transferred to different bands) leaving other band members and the Michel Band itself without formal recognition for reinstatement. The Michel Band and their members should be reinstated and the reserve and claim has to be settled.

3. Ferguson Commission and Indian Claims Commission Reports into Fraud, Speculation and Abandonment Activity by Federal Officials and their Associates

Parliament mandated the Ferguson Commission to investigate and report to parliament on the fraud and speculation on Indian lands. The report was presented to parliament during World War I.

The Ferguson Commission documented fraud committed by officials on the Pheasant Rump Band reserve lands, Ocean Man Band reserve lands, and the Peter Chapman Band reserve lands. Pheasant Rump Ocean Man were reinstated with only a partial settlement of reserve lands.
Peter Chapman and Chakastaypasin still wait.

The recent Indian Claims Commission report documents in more detail than the Ferguson Commission fraud committed and subsequent speculation in Indian lands going so far as to identify two (2) senior federal government civil servants in the late 1800s and earlier 1900s who profited by illegally terminating the status of a number of Indian bands.

The direct descendants of illegally terminated bands must have their status and
lands restored.

Recommendations

1. Affected Indian bands be restored their status, lands and membership by order in council of the Federal Cabinet.

2. New policies and processes be put into place that swiftly resolve all outstanding deficiencies in Canada meeting its Treaty obligations with First Nations.

3. Adequate funding be earmarked for funding these new policies and processes.