Heritage Site / Ethnography Site / Dene / Territory

Article: Conclusions to Treaty 10

Based on the evidence before the Commission, we make the following conclusions on the issues.

Issue One: The Geographical Scope of Treaties 8 and 10

The evidence does not support the claimants' submission that the boundaries of Treaties 8 and 10 extend beyond the metes and bounds descriptions to include the traditional lands of the Denes¶øiné. The traditional territory of the Denes¶øiné was not delineated at the time of the signing of the treaties and, for the most part, remains delineated to this day.

The Denes¶øiné traditional lands outside the boundaries described in Treaties 8 and 10 were not intended to be opened for non-Indian settlement, mining, lumbering, and other such uses at that time. The parties did not intend the boundaries of the treaties to encompass the Denes¶øiné traditional lands north of 60 degrees latitude.

Evidence that was found in this matter indicates that the Canadian government knew that the Denes¶øiné occupied, hunted, trapped, and fished much of the time north of 60 degrees latitude. It was to this end that the Denes¶øiné sought guarantees and promises from treaty Commissioners to the effect that their lifestyle of harvesting on those said lands would be protected.

Issue two:
Harvesting rights beyond the boundaries of the treaties:

The Denes¶øiné possess treaty rights extending beyond the borders of the treaties in respect to their traditional lands. These rights include the land north of the 60th parallel. But Canada says in response: The treaty right to hunt, fish and trap extends only within the boundaries and metes of the treaty description. When dealing with treaty issues as such this one, one must look back to our history and the evidence it entails. Such relevant historical evidence can be divided into two categories.

1. Conduct of the parties leading up to and during the signing of the treaties.
2. Conduct of the parties after the signing of the treaties.

More information can be found in large written text of the treaties in the bibliography provided. Conduct prior to the treaties. We have reached the following conclusions based upon the review of the full body of evidence:

Canada's objective was to secure a specific tract of land for settlement and other purposes. The objective of Denes¶øiné was to protect their traditional way of life. The Denes¶øiné were extremely apprehensive about entering the treaties out of the fear that their traditional way of life would be jeopardized. To ease the concerns of the Denes¶øiné people, the Commissioners gave oral assurance that the Denes¶øiné would be "as free to hunt, fish, and trap after the treaty as if they had never entered into it”.