It took more than a century and several generations, but the Lac La Ronge Indian Band of north-central Saskatchewan will finally get its due: nearly $1 million in back pay and restitution for annual allowances of twine and ammunition that were promised for hunting back in 1889 at the signing of Treaty 6.
The amount, which includes $660,000 in cash plus several properties valued collectively at $290,000, factors in income lost when the tribe couldn’t hunt or fish for lack of the materials, the Star Phoenix reported on March 29. The settlement totals $950,000, Tom McKenzie, claims coordinator for the band, told the newspaper.
Stemming from legal proceedings filed in 1987 that claimed the treaty obligations had not been met, negotiations began in 2003 and an agreement reached in January of this year. Band members ratified it on March 26. The largest First Nation in Saskatchewan and one of the 10 largest in Canada, the Lac La Ronge band’s population was 8,954 in 2010, according to its website. Its reserve lands stretch from central Saskatchewan farmland, north through the boreal forest and past the Churchill River, the band said.
According to the newspaper, the value of the twine and ammunition alone over the 100-year span was an estimated $18,000. Add in the economic setback of lacking hunting and fishing materials; compound interest; and consumer price index values, and you’ve got nearly $1 million.
“It is a historic settlement,” McKenzie told the Star Phoenix. The band members took their time working out the details, he said, so as to craft relationships with various levels of government.
“We have to be patient with something like this. The benefit is for the future generations, so it is a long-term issue,” he said, and in turn, “we must thank our ancestors who entered the treaty.”