Published on November 1, 2010 by John
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Couchiching First Nation
The Anishinaabe Nation represented by a Grand Council was found in the “borderlands region” between the former Minnesota territory, Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) and Fort William (now Thunder Bay). Since records were written by visitors to this region, the Anishinaabe Nation gathered near Couchiching falls in the Spring for ceremonies, largely supported by a abundance in fisheries and manomin (wild rice). Lac La Pluie or Rainy Lake was never officially settled until the establishment of Fort Frances, which was only made possible after the “Dawson route” was negotiated with the Grand Council in the 1859-1869 period. Fort Frances, named after Lady Frances Simpson, was largely a trading post community at Confederation (1867), the territory being under the control of the Anishinaabe in that period.
Chief Mikiseesis (“Little Eagle”) was a signatory to the October 3, 1873 treaty where he asserted control over lands now assumed by Fort Frances, Ontario. Treaty #3 is an important document for Couchiching First Nation and all members of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3. It was the Fort Frances area Chiefs that recommended that their members with French grandfathers be allowed into Treaty #3, it was because these members lived within the Anishinaabe communities as Anishinaabe peoples that allowed them in Treaty #3. In 1875 an adhesion to Treaty #3 resulted in a “half-breed” reserve being negotiated with families connected to Mikiseesis’ band (Rainy Lake band). The “half-breed” reserve was surveyed as reserve 16A. In 1967, both the Rainy Lake band and the 16A reserve were amalgamated and the two “communities” were now administered by a single “band”. All members of Couchiching First Nation are “Status Indians” under the Indian Act and Couchiching First Nation does not administer its own citizenship or membership code.