Mushkegowuk First Nations to Re-Enact Treaty Signing
MOOSE FACTORY – This week the Mushkegowuk First Nations are hosting an exciting three day conference to discuss the future of Treaty Nine, otherwise known as the James Bay Treaty. This Treaty was signed in 1905 by the seven First Nations that make up the Mushkegowuk Council, and is more relevant today than it has ever been according to Grand Chief Stan Louttit. “When my Grandfather signed the Treaty in Fort Albany in 1905, the terms as discussed and orally agreed to, were very clear. It was a sacr d oral agreement about living together and sharing the land” stated the Grand Chief.
“The Omushkego never surrendered the land or the natural resources but were told their rights would be protected” he continued. The ambiguity of the Treaty lies in the fact that the text was written in English and was never fully translated for the Cree-speaking First Nations,” added the Grand Chief.
Much of the discussion at the conference will focus on one aspect of the Treaty in particular: the English text included a clause giving the government the right to “take up” land as it desired. The diary of the Ontario Treaty commissioner confirms that this clause was never explained to the First Nations. The Mushkegowuk have recently begun court proceedings to have this issue settled. This lawsuit w ill also be discussed during the event.
Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday says that “We are expecting at least one hundred members of our First Nations and other guests to be here this week to discuss the next steps that we will take in order to ensure the proper implementation of the Treaty. For example we have an expectation that the First Nations should receive a fair share of the revenues the Province collects from the mines and hydro dams in our Territories.”
The theme of the conference is “Omushkego Sovereignty, Homeland and Jurisdiction” and will end with a re-enactment of the signing of the Treaty as remembered through the teachings of the Omushkego elders.