Black Lake Denesuline Indian Tribe of Saskatchewan

Published on October 1, 2010 by John

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The Black Lake Denesuline First Nation is located in the Athabasca region, and is 1,180 km northwest of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The First Nation language spoken is Dene. As of December 31st, 2001, according to the statistics drawn from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation had a total population of 1,589 members, with an on reserve population of 1,281 members and 308 members residing off the reserve. Further, the membership of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, not only manage and administer their own programs for education, health, social development, etc. they have also made a number of good sound economic development business investments. As noted in the PAGC Annual Report, Year 2001, the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation and the Black Lake Development Corporation formalized the land lease for a new health centre to be constructed on the reserve adjacent to the community of Stony Rapids. The Black Lake Development Corporation was also successful in obtaining a contract to maintain the seasonal road between Kilometer 91 and the community of Stony Rapids. One of the members of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation also opened a new gas bar/confectionary in the community of Black Lake.

It is also now noted that the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation does have a joint business partnership arrangement with the Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation, the Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation, and Graham Construction, and has invested in Points Athabaska Contracting Ltd. The PAGC Annual Report cited that Points Athabaska Contracting Ltd. recently completed construction of a new $1.4 million gymnasium at the McLean Lake site and has been awarded the contract to build a new $10. 3 million health facility at Stony Rapids. Further, Points Athabaska Contracting Ltd. also received contracts to from Saskatchewan Highways to upgrade sections of Highway 905 and the Turner Lake road. The Black Lake Denesuline First Nation has also invested in and is co-owner of Athabasca Catering, which currently has a five-year contract with Cameco Mining Corporation.

In addition, the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, affiliated with the twelve (12) First Nations that are the members of PAGC is one-twelfth owner of the Prince Albert Development Corporation that owns a total of three (3) hotels and the Northern Lights Casino building, as well as a number of other office buildings within the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Furthermore, the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation has invested and now own shares in the First Nation Bank of Canada located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

History

The following is an inventory of written documentation on the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation:

Note to reader: The following information for the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, to a certain extent is similar to the written material that has been cited for the Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation and will be noted for the Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation. Furthermore, the content of the written material to be cited for the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation is extracted mainly from the document published in 1995 by Indian Claims Commission and is cited as the Athabasca Denesuline Inquiry, Claim of Fond du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations.

Title: History of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, cited in Athabasca Denesuline Inquiry, Claim of Fond Du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nation, 1995, 3, ICCP.

Author(s): Indian Claims Commission

Publisher: The Indian Claims Commission (Canada), 1995.

Location: Canada Communication Group – Publishing, Ottawa, Canada.

Brief description: As previously noted, the above-mentioned document was published in 1995 and cites that on January 25, 1993, the Indian Claims Commission undertook to conduct an inquiry into the specific claim of the Fond Du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake [Denesuline] First Nations, all located in northern Saskatchewan (p. 7). Further, the document did cite that [t]he claimant First Nations are collectively referred to as the Athabasca Denesuline (which is pronounced as Den-a-sooth-leh-na in their native language of Chipewyan), and throughout the report the claimants are referred to as the Denesuline (p. 7).

It was noted in the document that [t]he claim of the Denesuline arises out of the Government of Canada’s denial that the [Fond Du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake] Denesuline have treaty rights north of the 60[th] parallel (p. 7). For the benefit of the reader, while the above-mentioned claim is still on-going to this date (year 2002), the Indian Claims Commission upon completion of their Inquiry in 1996 did publish a report with the following recommendation:

We recommend that the Ministers of Indian and Justice formally recognize that the Fond du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake Athabasca Denesuline have unextinguished rights to hunt, fish, and trap throughout their traditional territories pursuant to Treaties 8 and 10. In the alternative, if Canada is not prepared to recognize the existence of Denesuline treaty rights north of the 60th parallel, we recommend that Canada provide Litigation funding to the Denesuline to facilitate a resolution of the issue in the federal Court (Indian Claims Commission, 1996, 4, ICCP, p. 188).

It was verified by the 1995 Indian Claims Commission document, and for the benefit of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, the following is hereby cited, [a]nthropological evidence [did] confirm that the Chipewyan people, of which the Denesuline are members, historically occupied “the northern traditional zone of the boreal forest and the barren grounds beyond. The barren lands are located almost entirely north of the 60[th] latitude (p. 24). In addition, as confirmation for those who are now Members of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, the document published in 1995 by the Indian Claims Commission did verify that the Denesuline of the Fond Du Lac and Black Lake First Nations are descendants of Maurice’s Band, which signed an adhesion to Treaty 8 at Fond du Lac on July 25 and 27, 1899 (p. 19).

Further, it is now also noted, the microfiche retained at the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa did cite the Treaty Paylist as Maurice Band from 1899 to 1949, then as Fond du Lac [Band] and Stony Rapids [Band] from 1950 onwards (Oct. 13, 1978). In addition, for the benefit of the reader, the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation was also formally known as the Stony Rapids Band (Leo J. Omani, February 23rd, 2002).

The 1995 Indian Claims Commission document also did mention, in the 1930′s government officials did consider the creation of reserves for the Denesuline, however, this was abandoned because the Denesuline spent much of their time hunting and trapping in the Northwest Territories (p. 43). The statement just mentioned has been verified in the above-mentioned document with the following quote: In 1935 the Indian agent H. W. Lewis, commented on how the people of Maurice’s Band at Fond du Lac made their living:

These Indians trap almost altogether in the Barrens and live in tents. Their food is largely fish and wild game. They do not have much contact with others, coming to the Trading posts at Treaty and at New Years (Lewis, 1935, RG 10, vol. 6921, file 779/28-3, part 3 (ICC Documents, p. 512).

Further, it was cited in the 1995 Indian Claims Commission document, the idea of creating reserves for the Denesuline was again considered in 1952, 1956, as well as in the early 1960s (p. 44). The 1995 document then noted that on January 11, 1960, the Department of Indian Affairs acknowledged an outstanding treaty land entitlement to the Denesuline Bands. In the years that followed, land selections were made by the Denesuline Bands, including the claimants [the Fond Du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nations (p. 44). In 1995, when the above-mentioned document was published, it was noted that the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, which used to be known as the Stony Rapids Band, had acquired three reserves located on the east and west sides of Black Lake (p. 19).

As credit to the Chief of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation in the 1960s, the 1995 Indian Claims Commission document also did mention, it is important to note that even at this time, in the early to mid 1960s, "the Chief of the Stony Rapids Band" sought assurances that his people would not be confined to reserves but would retain the right to travel, hunt, trap, and fish as before. In a letter dated October 30, 1964, Mr. J.G. McGilp, the Regional Superior for Saskatchewan, Indian Affairs, provided the following assurance to Chief Louis Chichen of the Stony Rapids Band:

In accordance with your request, I am writing once more to assure you that the movements of the people of the Stony Rapids Band of Indians will not be restricted in any way by the reserve lands being set aside for you. You and your people continue to have the same rights to camp, live, hunt, fish, trap, and travel as you did before your reserve lands were set aside (McGilp, 1964, DIAND file E5673-06538); (ICC Documents, p. 635).

Note to reader: As was this case for the Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation, since many of the members of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation are descendants of Maurice's Band, the 1899 Treaty Annuity Paylist for Maurice's Band is noted below:

Title: 1899, Treaty Eight Annuity Paylist, Maurice's Band; i.e. cited for the benefit of the descendants that are now the members of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation.

Author(s): Department of Indian Affairs

Publisher: Department of Indian Affairs

Location: Department of Indian Affairs & National Archives, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Brief description: The above-mentioned 1899 Treaty Annuity Paylist cites the names of the membership of Maurice's Band, now known as both the Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation and the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation (See Appendix K: p. 285). Furthermore, this 1889 Treaty Annuity Paylist not only recorded the names of the head of the family, but also noted the annuity paid by gender, i.e. men, women, boys, girls.

In addition, the 1889 Treaty Annuity Paylist for the Maurice's Band also recorded the total number of individuals for each family that received an annuity payment, as well as the total amount paid to each family. As a concluding remark, cited below is the total number of the membership noted on the 1889 Treaty Annuity Paylist for Maurice's Band:

1899 - Three Hundred & Eighty-three (383) people, including both adults and children.

Note to reader: The following article cites an interview and a community member profile of the late Louis Dhitheda (Chicken), member of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation.

Title: Community Member Profile of the late Louis Dhitheda (Chicken), Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, i.e. cited in All Nations of Saskatchewan Indian Elders.

Author(s): Staff of Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC).

Publisher: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC), 1989.

Location: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Brief description: The above-mentioned article was printed in the book published in 1989 by the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC) and entitled: All Nations of Saskatchewan Indian Elders. Thus, accordingly the article is reprinted here in the format it was published, noting the interview and community member profile of the late Louis Dhitheda (Chicken).

As per the above-mentioned, the following cites the SICC reprinted article noting the interview and community member profile of the late Louis Dhitheda (Chicken):

Louis Dhitheda (Chicken)
Stony Rapids Reserve
81 Years Old

I was born 81 years ago on April 15, 1908 at Stony Rapids. I'm a member of the Stony Rapids Band. Treaty 8 was signed in 1899. The treaty was only ten years old when I was born. I grew up in [a] hunting and trapping lifestyle. Our cultural surrounding up north is still dependent on the Caribou.

I have two daughters living to-date and 9 grandchildren.

I was Band Councillor and Chief for 22 years and have been a Senator for 15 years. I’ve had Mary Rose as an interpreter for me since she was 15 years old.

I was involved in discussions about land claims for 18 years. We started in September 1983, with land reservation discussion. People were confused and couldn’t go outside their own piece of land. In 1981, we got a final settlement. I was involved the whole time.

As for self-government, we always had Indian self-government.

Note to reader: The following document was received from Ron Robillard and Peter Brooks, as this pertains to the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation Elders that participated in an Oral History Project in 1991.

Title: 1991 Oral History Project, Saskatchewan, Athabasca District; i.e. in reference to the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation Elders understanding of Treaty Eight negotiations and the Land Claim process.

Author(s):PAGC Oral History Project Research Team

Publisher: PAGC Oral History Project Research Team, 1991.

Location: Prince Albert Grand Council, Main Office, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Brief description: The above-mentioned oral history project document notes the names of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation Elders that participated in the oral history project in 1991. Specifically, the Elders were asked through the interview process:

What was life like before the signing of Treaty?
What was their understanding in the negotiation of Treaty Eight, and
The content of the treaties, what was agreed to?
Further, as for the land claim process, for those Elders that did not participate in the previous year’s study, in reference to the mapping of the land, based on the oral history of land use, these Elders were asked additional questions for their understanding and verification of the various locations of land that they have continued to use since before the signing of Treaty Eight.

While the land claim process, north of the 60th parallel, is still on-going to this date, the following notes the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation Elders that participated in the above-mentioned Oral History Project document in 1991:

Elder Charlie Throassie, Black Lake; p. 1
Elder John Laban, Black Lake; p. 13
Elder Marlene Cook, Black Lake; p. 20
Elder Harry Sandy Point, Black Lake; p. 26
Elder Stan Robillard, Black Lake; p. 29

Note to reader: The following article noted in brief is of historical interest that mentions the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation:

Title: Man: Wolf: Women: Dog: Arctic Anthropology, fieldwork in Black Lake; i.e. cited in Bibliography of Books & Articles on Dene, Lynda M. Holland (2001), La Ronge, Sk.

Author(s): H.S. Sharp

Publisher: Arctic Anthropology, XIII – 1. pp. 25-34, 1976.

Location: Bibliography of Books & Articles on Dene, Lynda M. Holland, La Ronge, Sk.

Brief description: The article entitled Man: Wolf: Women: Dog: is drawn from the annotated bibliography of books and articles that were prepared in June of 2001 by Lynda M. Holland, cited in the document referred to as Dene Land Use in the Transitional Forest Zone and the Barrenlands.

The content in this particular article pertains to the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation and was submitted to Ron Robillard and Peter Brooks of the Prince Albert Grand Council.

As noted by Holland (2001), the author of the above-mentioned article conducted fieldwork in Black Lake, 1969 – 70 (Sharp, 1976, pp. 25-34).

Source: eculture.pagc.sk.ca

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