Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

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Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

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Prior to first contact with Europeans, the Lubicon Cree occupied the territory now under dispute in northern Alberta. "When Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, the Lubicon were missed. At various times during the 1920s and 1930s, Lubicon who wanted to become part of Treaty 8 contacted the government. In 1933, they formally petitioned Ottawa to recognize their rights. In 1939 the federal government recognized the Lubicon as a separate band, but no treaty was made. By 1942 a government official had removed the names of many people belonging to the interior bands in order to 'cut down expenses.' In the 1970s, sizable oil and gas reserves were discovered on Lubicon land. In 1973 a federal Order-in-Council was passed which legally recognized the Lubicon Lake Indians as a band. In 1975 the Lubicon, with six other isolated communities, submitted a caveat to serve notice of their unextinguished Aboriginal Rights. The provincial government responded by retroactively passing Bill 29, which changed the law and thus made the Lubicon case (with the other applicants on the caveat) without basis. Resource development began in earnest in 1979. The ability of the Lubicon to continue their self-sufficient lifestyle was arrested by the development. By 1983, the number of moose killed annually had decreased from 200 to 19. That year, the World Council of Churches investigated the situation at Little Buffalo and in a personal letter to the prime minister, warned of impending "genocidal consequences". From 1979 to 1989, the number of Lubicon on welfare changed from 10 per cent to 90 percent. It was estimated that the 400 oil wells pumped $1 million worth of oil daily; none of this revenue benefited the Lubicon." In 1985, Indian Affairs agreed to study the situation, and the conflict has gone through many stages: failed negotiations, government reports, contentious land development agreements, physical confrontations and road blocks, and a United Nations Committee on Human Rights report. (from, "The Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Final Report", printed in Edmonton, March 1993, p. 1).


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