Did You Know.........

Submitted by jdorion on Sat, 10/22/2011 - 18:09

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the numerous family clans of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation, also known as the John Cochrane First Nation lived in the Cumberland Delta on the island of Cumberland House and the surrounding areas and along the North Saskatchewan River. There were hundreds of families spread across many miles living in their Traditional territories.

They lived in these areas for thousands of years successfully sustaining their traditional way of life. They lived off the land and used its resources for traditional cultural, social and economic purposes. They believed that the Creator gave them the responsibility to take care of all that lived on the lands - they were equal to all living things and they were to look after each other and all of the Creators creations .

After the Europeans came to the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people's territories their way of life began to change and in order to sustain the lives of their Cree Clans the families living in the Cumberland Delta areas entered into Treaty agreements with the Crown.

The government officials and Indian Agents of the day made Treaty 5 agreement with great haste. They did not take the time to find out who the family clans were and where they were located (where their camps were). Their only interest was to get Treaty 5 "business" done as quickly as possible and they were not interesting in traveling through the Cumberland Delta with its many small islands to find out who the Kaministikominahiko-skak families were and how many people belonged to the Nation.

Instead they decided they would just lump all the groups of families living close to the Cumberland House Hudson Bay Company (HBC) Trading Post and those who traded with HBC into one big group. They called this amalgamation - a process they had used in other territories in the Treaty signing process. This was to be a temporary situation of creation of large Bands across Western Canada that were made up of smaller distinct Indigenous Nations.

This practice was also used with other bands ( James Roberts, The Pas Mountain Bands, and The Island Lake Bands in Manitoba). Since then these bands have been reinstated through order-in-council recognizing each Nation (band) as separate and distinct.

In the Cumberland House area (an area named by the Hudson Bay Company) a super band was created called the "Cumberland Indian Band" . Under this name five (5) groups of Cree Nation peoples were listed on the Treaty 5 document: Cumberland Island, Sturgeon River (Cut) Beaver Lake (all three groups were part of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree), Angling River (a separate Cree Nation) and Pine Bluff (a separate Cree Nation).

The Treaty 5 signatory was John Cochrane, a member of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree family clans. John Cochrane signed Treaty 5 on behalf of Cumberland Island, Sturgeon River, and Cut Beaver Lake Kaministikominahiko-skak peoples living in these locations. Pine Bluff and Angling River were separate Cree Nation Peoples. John Cochrane did not sign of their behalf.

The Treaty Commissioners were not interested in getting the facts straight when they made Treaty 5 in the Cumberland areas. They designated John Cochrane Chief of the Cumberland Island Band 2 years after the signing of Treaty 5. In fact the Treaty negotiation and signing process has been documented as four (4) hours in length!!

In 1902, Peter Chapman, also a member of Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree Nation, took his family clan who were part of the Cumberland Island clan and moved them to the Fort a la Corne areas now known as 100A Reserve which was set aside through an order in council. Later, the Band was amalgamated with the James Smith Band and Indian Affairs refuses to recognize it as a separate distinct Band which was party to Treaty No.5.

In the late 1960's, the Pine Bluff people who are a different Cree Nation from the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cumberland Island people, were moved from their own Indian Reserve lands by Pine Bluff//Muskeg River areas 30 miles northwest of Cumberland House to Cumberland House. Shortly after moving the Pine Bluff people to Cumberland House Indian Affairs established the Cumberland House Band (now known as the Cumberland House Cree Nation) under the authority of the Indian Act.

The Pine Bluff Band was relocated from the Pine Bluff Indian Reserve to the town of Cumberland House and later onto the reserve lands belonging to the Cumberland Island people. This was all done by Indian Affairs without consulting the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree people (John Cochrane Band). Since this time, the Pine Bluff people calling themselves the Cumberland House Cree Nation claim to be the original "Cumberland Band Indians" - the ones who lived on Cumberland Island at the time Treaty 5 was signed. This is historically wrong (and their Elders know it!)

Its been over 140 years since Chief John Cochrane signed Treaty No.5. The descendants of the Kaministikominahiko-skak Cree, over 1200 members and growing, have been waiting much too long for the Canadian government to hold up their end of the Treaty 5 agreement - de-amalgamation and PROPER negotiations respecting our Inherent and Treaty Rights.