The Wood Mountain Lakota Nation has been awarded damages by the Appeals Court for a damaged fence and land rental fees.

The First Nation in southern Sask. has been engaged in a long-running dispute with area farmers William and Edith Goodtrack.

A suit was filed against the Goodtracks for illegal use of farm land belonging to the First Nation.

“For many years, the Goodtracks engaged in a mixed farming operation on 14 parcels of agricultural land, approximately 5.25 sections located on the Reserve. The Goodtracks have never paid rent or fees of any kind to Wood Mountain for the use of the land,” the ruling stated.

In 2012, Wood Mountain created an interim land management policy in relation to its land on the Reserve.

The policy required, among other things, that the users of agricultural land on the Reserve obtain a permit to occupy and use the land and pay fees for doing so.

“After it implemented its interim land management policy in 2012, Wood Mountain undertook extensive efforts to attempt to have the Goodtracks fill out a permit application for the Land, but the Goodtracks never applied for a permit. The Goodtracks occupied and exclusively used the Land continuously from the start of 2013 until the end of 2017 without a permit and without paying rent or any other form of compensation for its use,” said the ruling.

“In the spring of 2014, Wood Mountain built a fence in order to facilitate issuing a permit to another party for some of the other land on the Reserve. Mr. Goodtrack tore the fence down.”

The First Nation successfully argued the trial judge did not award damages for the fence and other losses.

The Appeals court found Wood Mountain would have earned approximately $155,500 through leases between 2013 and 2017.

“The amount of the judgment for damages is increased by $6,509.20 for the loss of the fence and increased by a further $155,552.62 for the loss of RLEMP funding. Wood Mountain is entitled to costs of the appeal and the cross-appeal, which I fix in a total amount of $5,000.00.” concluded the appeals court.