The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation of Manitoba has signed a new self-government agreement which will allow the band greater control over economic development, land management and education.

The agreement, the first of its kind on the Prairies, was signed late last week between the First Nation and the federal and provincial governments.

Chief Vincent Tacan says pursuing a self-government agreement can be a long process and key for Saskatchewan bands pursuing similar agreements, such as the Meadow Lake Tribal Council and Whitecap Dakota First Nation, is having finances in order and including all surrounding stakeholders in the process.

“You should start by looking at your own internal processes and, by that, I mean getting the finances straightened out and having a process of redress I guess for community members,” he says. “A lot of information sharing with community would be helpful and again developing a relationship with your surrounding neighbours would also be helpful.”

He adds one of the biggest obstacles to achieving such agreements can be a resistance to change both within and outside a First Nation.

“Dispelling some of the fears that people may have,” he says. “We’ve been so conditioned I guess to accepting someone else from outside our community dictating how things ought to run, so we’ve become accustomed to that.”

Tacan says Sioux Valley Dakota hopes to have the self-government agreement fully in place by early spring once it has been formally passed through Parliament.

The agreement is the culmination of 20 years of work by various parties.

The First Nation is located about 50 kilometres west of Brandon.