Aug 9/98: Nisga'a land deal contradicts UN report


Mohawk Nation News
August 9, 1998

MNN Mohawk Nation News. 9 Aug. 98. Some of those who are not superstitious are questioning why 5 people were killed in a freak airplane crash almost in front of the celebrations of the new Nisga'a land treaty. Ravens circled the village too. Even The Province newspaper mentioned that the Nisga'a believe it foretells death. So picture this: dancing with wolves like British Columbia Premier Clark and federal Minister of Indian Affairs Jane Stewart (with Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations in the shadow) in the Big House celebrating the murder plan of Nisga'a sovereignty....and then we cut to a plane that just suddenly flips over. Someone said it looked just like it had been picked up and flicked over. No previous problems before - just a freak gust of wind that blew it over. Apparently when the messenger brought the news to the big hall where they were feasting and celebrating - they said it just dropped right down to silence. Then everyone left. That was the end of that. So, doesn't it sound like an omen?

The 8 year United Nations "Study on Treaties, Agreements and other Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Populations" by Miguel Alfonso Martinez was released on July 30th 1998. Martinez concluded that Indigenous People have a right to their lands and resources and to continue to engage, unmolested, in their traditional economic activities thereon. Also, Indigenous people have an inalienable right to self-determination as set out in Article l of the UN Charter. As well, Indigenous peoples never lost their nationhood. Therefore, agreements between states and Indigenous Peoples are international treaties. Governments that signed treaties and others who did not have the same rights. Hereditary governments survived European colonization and are legitimate in present-day Canada. The state cannot extinguish native [sovereignty]. Martinez cautions Indigenous Peoples to not accept self-government in exchange for giving up their ancestral rights. Based on this report, the Nisga draft treaty should be analyzed. As it looks now, they're engineering "extinguishment with consent" to Nisga'a sovereignty. "Full and final" is the new alternative to "cede, release, surrender". So if the scheme succeeds...then just like the cartoons, it's: "that's all folks!" People should see what the Nisga'as agreed's hard to believe. Here are a few quotes from the government PR:

"One of the goals of treaty-making is to establish certainty over lands and resources to provide a more secure investment climate for investment and economic development in BC."

"good news for the economy, and prosperity for communities in northwestern BC".

"there's no vagueness about the Nisga'a Final Agreement. The Final Agreement is a full and final settlement of Nisga'a Aboriginal rights"

"The Nisga'a Lands will be as much a part of Canada as any other place in BC"

"Federal and provincial laws of general application will be in force in the Nisga'a Lands, and the public will have substantially greater rights of access to the Nisga'a Lands than to other privately held lands."

"Simply put: there are no provisions in the Final Agreement for racially based laws or for a third order of government."

"The Nisga'a Government will function under the umbrella of federal and provincial legislation, just like other local governments. Generally, if there is a conflict between Nisga'a laws and those of Canada and British Columbia, the federal or provincial legislation will prevail."

"Now, for the first time ever in BC, a First Nation has agreed to end its tax-exempt status."

"Unless returning salmon stocks are above a minimum escapement level determined by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, no one, Nisga'a or otherwise, can fish. The Nisga'a may sell salmon only if commercial and recreational sectors can fish for those salmon."

"Under the Nisga'a Final Agreement, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to have responsibility for the management of fisheries in the Nass River, including Nisga'a fisheries."

"Nisga'a annual fishing plans must be approved by the Minister to be effective."

"When the Nisga'a Treaty is ratified it will give Nisga'a citizens an opportunity to participate in our country's economy and social structure on the same basis as other Canadians."

"Federal and provincial laws (such as the Criminal Code of Canada) will continue to apply to Nisga'a citizens and others on Nisga'a Lands."

"Finally, the Nisga'a agree to release any Aboriginal rights, including Aboriginal title, that are not set out in the Treaty or which are different in attributes or geographical extent from the Nisga'a section 35 rights set out in the Treaty."

"The land will be held in fee simple by the Nisga'a - the same kind of land ownership enjoyed by other landowners."

"Nisga'a Lands will not include existing fee simple lands, or lands subject to agricultural leases and wood lot licenses."

"Existing legal interests on Nisga'a Lands will continue or be re-issued on their current terms."

"Provincial laws pertaining to the manufacture of timber products harvested on Crown lands will apply equally to timber harvested on Nisga'a Lands.

"There will be reasonable public access to Nisga'a Public Lands for non-commercial purposes such as hunting, fishing and recreation."

"The federal and provincial governments will have access to Nisga'a Lands for purposes such as the delivery or management fo government services and emergency response."

"The Nisga'a right to hunt cannot interfere with other authorized uses of Crown land and does not preclude the Crown from authorizing uses of or disposing of Crown land, subject to certain considerations."

"Federal and provincial laws continue to apply to Nisga'a citizens and Nisga'a Lands, and the relationship between those laws and Nisga'a laws has been clearly set out in the Final Agreement."

"Final decisions by the Nisga'a Court may be appealed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on the same basis as decisions made by the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

"Provisions will be made to facilitate the transition from jurisdiction under the Indian Act to provincial or Nisga'a jurisdiction for such things as wills, administration of estates, and governance arrangements."

"The Fiscal Financing Agreement will take into account the Nisga'a Government's ability to raise its own revenues consistent with an own source revenue agreement."

"The Nisga'a Government will have the power to tax Nisga'a citizens on Nisga'a Lands."

"The Nisga'a Government, Canada and British Columbia may negotiate tax delegation agreements for other taxes and the Parties may make agreements to coordinate their respective tax systems on Nisga'a Lands."

"Nisga'a Lands will continue to be part of the Electoral Area 'A' in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine."

"Those Nisga'a who are enrolled by the Enrolment Committee will vote on the agreement by secret ballot. A Ratification Committee, with Nisga'a, federal and provincial representatives, will oversee the conduct of the vote. To be approved, the agreement must be ratified by a majority, (ie,, 50 percent plus one vote) of all eligible voters."


(all passages are from official government sources)

"The purpose of BC's Treaty Process is to legitimize the theft of our lands" - Elder Lavina White - Haida Nation.

Still there? So...pretty scarrrry eh?

MNN Mohawk Nation News
Box 991, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (Quebec, Canada) J0L 1B0
Tel: 450-635-8696

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