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Before and shortly after signing of Treaty Three (1873), the Band was known as the Mattawan who were stewards of vast reaches of  land within the treaty area (see boundary map). The descendants of Mattawan are Wabauskang and Grassy Narrows (GN) First Nations and some government documents indicate that the origins of Lac Seul First Nation can also be traced back to the Mattawan Peoples. Chief Sahkatcheway was the contemporary leader of Mattawan and a signatory to Treaty Three (1873). Treaty three lands were to be selected and laid aside for farming purposes after consulting with each band. The size of the reserve lands was based on an area of one square mile for each family of five or in proportion to the size of the family. Based on 200 members, at the per capita allotment of 128 acres per person, the land entitlement for Chief Sahkatcheway’s people in 1875 was to have been 25,600, acres. Surveying of reserve lands was not completed due to weather, financial difficulties and Ontario/Manitoba boundary disputes. The failure to incomplete the surveys has resulted in a shortfall of 7,314 acres (based on the original estimated population, at signing of the Treaty) for Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabauskang First Nation, jointly.


In 1990 Wabauskang and Grassy Narrows filed a joint Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) claim to be compensated for the shortfall in land they did not receive.   It has been established that Wabauskang did not receive the per-capita land that they were entitled to under the Treaty. Moreover, the original census of 200 members has come into question as being inaccurately low. Pay lists[1] and historical research are being used to verify the number of band members at the time of treaty signing in order to accurately assess the actual amount of land owing. The TLE negotiations are a tri-partite[2] process where the intent is for Canada to provide financial compensation for loss of use and Ontario is to provide the lands that were owed or cash in lieu of these lands. Notwithstanding, federal and provincial government political changes, as well as changes to Chief and Council governance which has slowed progress, the negotiations are still ongoing and proceeding at a steady pace


[1] Pay List – A list of registered First Nation members, entitled to receive yearly payments through membership to a Band that has signed a historic treaty with the Crown.


[2] Tri-Partite: Three parties; in this case First Nations, Canada and Ontario.


This is an original photograph of the conclusion of negotiations for Treaty No. 3 at the North West Angle. It was taken by Wright Bros. Photographers of Rat Portage, now Kenora.

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