Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice
Begade Shutagot'ine and the Sahtu Treaty
About this Item
Contemporary Studies on the North
University of Manitoba Press
"A Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice" chronicles Peter Kulchyski's experiences with the Begade Shutagot'ine, a small community of a few hundred people living in and around Tulita (formerly Fort Norman), on the Mackenzie River in the heart of Canada's Northwest Territories. Despite their formal objections and boycott of the agreement, the band and their lands were included in the Sahtu Treaty, a modern comprehensive land claims agreement negotiated between the Government of Canada and the Sahtu Tribal Council, representing Dene and Metis peoples of the region. While both Treaty 11 (1921) and the Sahtu Treaty (1994) purport to extinguish Begade Shutagot'ine Aboriginal title, oral history and documented attempts to exclude themselves from treaty strongly challenge the validity of that extinguishment. Structured as a series of briefs to an inquiry into the Begade Shutagot'ine's claim, this manuscript documents the negotiation and implementation of the Sahtu Treaty and amasses evidence of historical and continued presence and land use to make eminently clear that the Begade Shutagot'ine are the continued owners of the land by law: they have not extinguished title to their traditional territories; they continue to exercise their customs, practices, and traditions on those territories; and they have a fundamental right to be consulted on, and refuse or be compensated for, development projects on those territories. Kulchyski bears eloquent witness to the Begade Shutagot'ine people's two-decade struggle for land rights, which have been blatantly ignored by federal and territorial authorities for too long.