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Historic Land Agreement Signed!

On August 31, 1984, seven years of labour culminated in the signing of the Ocean Man - Pheasant Rump Agreement in Principle by then Indian Affairs Minister Doug Firth and Chief Brian Standingready of the Whitebear Band. Solomon Sanderson, Chief of the F.S.I.N., who contributed to the Agreement by seeking a political resolution of the issue, was also in attendance. Sanderson had given high priority to land surrender issues, and retains this portfolio on the Executive Council. The Agreement involves the restitution of lands and monies swindled from the Assiniboine and Sioux Indians over 80 years ago.

The men involved in the fraud were civil servants James Allan Smart, Frank Pedley and William J. White, who decided to sell over 45,000 acres of prime farm land on the Ocean Man and Pheasant's Rump Reserves. In March, 1901, the Indians of the two reserves were unwillingly forced off their land with threats of police eviction. The land was to have been sold to an American group, with a $5,000 bonus for the Indians to build new homes. The government then decided not to sell, but the Indians couldn't return to their reserves nor did they receive any money for housing. The land was then put up for tender and advertised at an inaccurate low price set by Smart, of $1.10 per acre. The sale was advertised in only three papers and there were only 20 days after the ads before the bids were to be in Ottawa. Smart, Pedley and White bought 298 of 308 quarter sections at $1.23 per acre in November and then sold the lands in April, 1902 for $2.50 per acre, twice the price the Indians had received, making a great deal of money on speculation.

This new agreement seeks to settle with the descendants of the two reserves, now living in the Whitebear settlement. The agreement is subject to ratification by the new Conservative Cabinet, and by a referendum of the Whitebear Band. It must become a cabinet document, because it involves the expenditure of public monies.

The descendants are to receive sixteen million and 165,000 dollars in a trust fund held by the Band, and it is not part of band capital or the revenue account. They will also receive the Kisbey Ranch where the descendants of the original two reserves may live if they choose. The ranch has 12,000 acres and its book value is $1.8 million. Combining the totals the Band will receive 18 million dollars.

Chief Brian Standingready felt that the Band was forced to accept a lower settlement because of deadlines forced by the onset of the federal election.

Chief Sol Sanderson stated that the signing of the Ocean Man - Pheasant Rump Agreement in Principle and reinstatement of one Band, is setting a precedent for development and recognition of new Bands and the reinstatement of lands formerly lost.