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Indian Claims Denied

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1976      v05 n02 p11  
Edmonton, Alberta [CP] - Indians in the Northwest Territories have no right to claim an interest in 450,000 square miles of land, the Northwest Territories Appeal Court said recently.

The court, by a 4 to 1 vote, overturned a decision made last June by Mr. Justice William Morrow that allowed the Indians to file a caveat claiming an interest in the land.

In Yellowknife, the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest - Territories said it will appeal decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Indians had claimed that they had an interest because of aboriginal rights that had not been given up when they signed Treaties 8 and 11 in 1899 and 1921.

When the caveat was presented to the registrar of land in Yellowknife, he referred the matter to Mr. Justice Morrow for advice on whether the caveat should be registered.

Mr. Justice Morrow held a series of hearings throughout the North before concluding the Indian has an interest in the land.

The appeal court decision dealt with a limited, technical, and concluded that no interest could be claimed in land still owned by the Crown.

The majority of the court - consisting of Alberta Chief Justice W. A. McGillivary, Mr. Justice Neil McDermid, Mr. Justice William Sinclair, and Mr. Justice Carl Clement, made little mention on the issue of aboriginal rights.

The sole dissenting judgement came from Mr. Justice Arnold Moir, who said he would have ordered the caveat filed.

Mr. Justice Moir said the Indians had certain rights on the northern land.

"It is a right to use, to farm, to hunt, to fish, to trap, to pick berries, on the land, a right to live on the land as their forefathers did and to win from it, a living by hunting, trapping, fishing, farming, and generally by using the land," he said.