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Article: Saskatchewan Dene Land Claims

The Office of Treaty Commissioner (OTC) was first established in June 1989, as a result of an agreement between the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). The objective was to start bilateral negotiations on treaty land entitlement and education with Saskatchewan First Nations. The OTC played a key role in developing the equity formula for settling outstanding treaty land claims in Saskatchewan and as the result the Treaty Land Entitlements Framework Agreement was signed in 1992 by 25 Saskatchewan First Nations. (Brinzinski, P.) 1993.

Under this agreement, the provincial and federal governments are providing signatory First Nations with 440 million dollars over the period of 12 years to purchase land, mineral rights and infrastructure improvements. The Framework Agreement settles the land debt that is owed to these 25 First Nations because they did not receive all the land they were entitled to under the treaties 4,6 and 10. In addition, 76 million dollars were being transferred to three bands in Saskatchewan, as the result there are now 28 bands that are now under Treaty Land Entitlement.

This inquiry is related to the Fond du Lac Band, Black Lake, and Hatchet Lake Denes¶øiné bands located in Northern Saskatchewan. These three First Nations are known as the Denes¶øiné of the Athabasca region. The tribe maintains that they keep their hunting, fishing and trapping rights under this law, and the freedom to do so through out the all their traditional territories, which includes land to the Northwest Territories. In June of 1989, DIAND and INAC advised them that their aboriginal rights to land north of 60 [degrees] were surrendered by the treaties 5, 8, and 10 and harvesting rights do not extend beyond those boundaries.

December 21, 1992 brought the Athabascan Denes¶øiné to the negotiation table again, this time requesting that Indian Land Claims Commission conduct an inquiry into the denial of their "Specific Claim by Canada". They argued that the terms of treaty 8 and treaty 10 include a provision for protection of their right to hunt, fish and trap in areas of the Northwest territories which are north of the 60 degree parallel and outside the fixed boundaries. The Indian Claims Commissioner agreed to conduct research in January of 1993. They said that the Indians of the Athabasca region should have the right to hunt, fish and trap in areas designated in their claim. In August 1994, Canada denied the existence of these rights. The minister of Indian Affairs reexamined the issue in the fall of 1995.