Canada | Opinion

Michael Marchand: Colville Tribes should file land claim in Canada

Upper Arrow Lake in British Columbia, Canada, is part of the traditional territory of the Sinixt people, whose descendants are found among the Confederated Colville Tribes in Washington. Photo: Gwk

Now that a citizen of the Colville Tribes has won the right to exercise his aboriginal hunting rights across the border in Canada, what comes next? Dr. Michael Marchand, the chairman of the tribe, calls for a land claim to be filed on behalf of the Sinixt people, whose stretches from the Arrow Lakes region in British Columbia to the present-day reservation in Washington:
It has been a busy year. We won a major case on March 27, 2017 in Canada establishing hunting rights in the Arrow Lakes territory of British Columbia. About 10 years ago, the tribe came up with a plan to win back our rights. It was decided to do a test hunting case. Tribal member Ricky Disautel went up and shot an elk. He was arrested 7 years ago. That was the plan. Then we sat back to see if Canada would take it to trial. They finally did go to trial this year. There was an extensive trial lasting several months in Nelson, British Columbia. The tribe's attorney was Mark Underhill who did a very good job presenting our case and countering the prosecution arguments. There was a lot of testimony by witnesses and through research to establish that our Arrow Lakes people presently enrolled on the Colville Reservation were the original people living in Arrow Lakes and that they now should have the right to hunt in these lands again. In 1956, Canada had declared the Arrow Lakes people extinct. Canada confiscated all lands. Arrow Lakes were barred from all most all legal avenues available to other First Nations people due to the legal extinction status. This status has been overcome. In a strongly worded opinion, the Arrow Lakes people have the right to hunt in Canadian Arrow Lakes lands, the lands roughly cover mush of the Upper Columbia River, including such towns as Trail, Castelgar, Nelson, Nakusp, and Revelstoke. So it is a very large territory consisting of many lakes and high glacier topped mountains.

Now the tribe should proceed with its Canada land claims case.

Read More on the Story:
Michael Marchand: Busy year sees Colville win major case in Canada; tribe now should proceed with B.C. land claim (The Tribal Tribune 3/31)

British Columbia Provincial Court Decision:
Regina v. Richard Lee Desautel (March 26, 2017)

Related Stories:
Colville Tribes hail 'historic victory' on aboriginal hunting rights (3/27)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)