Last descendants of Sitting Bull’s tribe reach tentative settlement
- EFN Staff | December 12, 2019
The Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation reached a tentative settlement of 100-year-old land dispute. On December 9, 2019, the Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation in southern Saskatchewan announced that they have reached a tentative settlement of a land dispute relating to the size of its reserve, bringing to an end more than 10 years of litigation and negotiations.
“While it’s been a long time coming, the proposed settlement agreement shows the commitment of both our leadership and the Government of Canada to move past simply talking about reconciliation. This is truly ‘reconcili-ACTION’”, said Chief Ellen B. Lecaine in a media release.
The proposed settlement will go through a ratification process with Wood Mountain members, with a vote scheduled for January 11, 2020. All Band members have been invited to an information meeting on December 14, 2019. The dispute centered around a unilateral decision made by Canadian officials to take away half of Wood Mountain Lakota’s original reserve around the time of the First World War.
The Government of Canada gave those lands to returning non-Indigenous soldiers and settlers, effectively turning over the First Nation’s land to private owners. Under the proposed settlement agreement, Canada will pay approximately $50 million in compensation for the loss of use of the lands and has agreed that the First Nation can buy nearly 5,700 acres of land to replace what was taken.
The First Nation will use a portion of the compensation to provide a reasonable distribution to its members and to target economic and cultural initiatives, with the funds placed in a trust to benefit future generations.
“We will use this settlement to assist our families and communities today and to protect the interests of future generations. We faced many challenges when the land was taken and this settlement is about moving forward. We will use the lessons of the past to address the needs at the heart of our Nation and our families,” stated Chief Lecaine.
Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation members are the descendants of Sitting Bull’s tribe. It is the only Lakota First Nation in Canada and one of three First Nations in Saskatchewan that has not entered into Treaty. The Nation’s reserve is located approximately 65 kilometres southwest of the Town of Assiniboia.