Traditions Still Honoured 120 Years Into Treaty

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 13:36



The fact that northern Saskatchewan’s three Woodland Cree First Nations continue to thrive, more than a century after signing on to treaty 6, is proof of their “resilience, courage and determination”, according to one of the bands’ chiefs.


Tammy Cook-Searson is chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, which played host yesterday to a celebration of the 1889 ceremony that brought the Woodland Cree — then numbering less than 400 people — into a treaty relationship with the British Crown.


Today, there are over 20,000 descendants of the signing nations — including members of the Lac La Ronge, Peter Ballantyne and Montreal Lake bands.


Chief Cook-Searson says her predecessor knew the importance of negotiating a treaty that would respect his people’s values and traditions.


“That’s the one thing that Chief James Roberts wanted to ensure, that we still have our hunting, fishing, trapping, and also our language, and we still have that. We still continue to practice our way of life. It’s so important to know our roots…. We need to know where we come from, who we are, because we don’t have anywhere to go but here. This is our traditional territory. This is where we’re from and this is who we are, as Cree people,” Cook-Searson says.


Several hundred people packed the gym at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre for the grand entry, a fish fry, and a speech about the treaties by former national chief Ovide Mercredi, followed by traditional cultural activities and an evening concert and dance.