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Whitebear proposes to hire a claims advisor to assist them in developing their claim to two additional reserves surrendered in the early 1900's. Cost of the project is expected to run about $40,000 and it is proposed that the Whitebear project become a model for similar' claims projects on other reserves.
Whitebear sought and won Saskatchewan Chief's support for their proposal at the recent All-Chiefs conference in Saskatoon.
According to Chief Bill Standingready, Whitebear's land claim involves land surrendered as Pheasant's Rump and Ocean Man Reserves. The band alleges the surrender was arranged through a process of manipulation and possible coercion.
About 1901 White Bear's, Ocean Man's and Pheasant Rump's bands were consolidated on the Whitebear reserve, a six by seven mile reserve about nine miles north of Carlyle.
In recent years a large portion of the surrendered lands were acquired by a local rancher. When the rancher was unable to keep up his mortgage payments the land came up for sale and the Whitebear council persuaded Indian Affairs to purchase the land and hold it in abeyance until a claim could be presented to the government for the land.
Development of the claim is expected to take a year or more, says Chief Standingready. Once the land is acquired, however, the band expects to develop a farm and cattle operation on the site.
Indian Affairs assistant deputy minister, Peter Lesaux, said he had some misgivings about Whitebear's proposal, however Mr. Lesaux told the conference that there is such a shortage of skilled persons to work in the area of land claims "and it is such a tremendously important job," that, he, would be inclined to encourage centralization of land, claims development. There just aren't the resources available to allow every band to institute their own land claims development section, he said.