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Negotiating Land Claims

THE NISGA'A NATION (BRITISH COLUMBIA)

The Nisga'a people of northwestern British Columbia have lived in the Nass River valley for more than 10,000 years. Traditionally, they lived off of hunting, fishing and trapping. When they met Europeans, the Nisga'a had 8,000 people and had a few strong communities. Soon only 800 Nisga’a people remained. This small group survived and grew. Today, there are 6,000 Nisga'a people around the world.

In the 1990s, the Nisga'a made international headlines; they have negotiated the first modern-day treaty between an Aboriginal nation and the governments of Canada and British Columbia. It is the first treaty ever signed west of the Rocky Mountains, and is a goal they had been working on for more than 100 years!

The Nisga'a never gave up their title to the lands on which they traditionally lived. They created the Nisga'a Land Committee. Its job was to campaign for the reinstatement of territorial rights and self-government.

Once it is approved, the treaty gives the Nisga'a people title to about 2000 square kilometers of land. They will have the right to negotiate their own contracts, to make laws about culture, public works, traffic, land use, marriage, health, and child welfare. The Nisga'a will also have their own police and court system. Over a few years BC and Ottawa will transfer over 190 million dollars to Nisga’a. A lot of this money will be used for schools and learning.

 

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