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New Publication: Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice: Begade Shutagot’ine and the Sahtu Treaty

In April, Department of Native Studies professor Peter Kulchyski launched his new book Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice: Begade Shutagot’ine and the Sahtu Treaty at McNally Robinson Booksellers Grant Park location. The event was hosted by Warren Cariou, Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media and Director of the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.

The book, a critique of the land claims process in northern Canada, chronicles 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 Eleven (1921) and the Sahtu Treaty (1994) purport to extinguish Begade Shutagot’ine Aboriginal title, oral history and documented attempts to exclude themselves from the 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 book 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.

Kulchyski has spent many years travelling to the north, where he has not only interviewed elders and politicians, but also participated in daily life. These experiences, along with his time as a non-Indigenous student in a government-run Residential high school in northern Manitoba, have helped to shape his writing, research, and teaching. He has written and edited many books on Indigenous rights and politics including Aboriginal Rights Are Not Human Rights: In Defence of Indigenous Struggles (2013) and Like the Sound of a Drum: Aboriginal Cultural Politics in Denendeh and Nunavut (2005).

On April 10, 2018, Kulchyski was presented with the Dr. John M. Bowman Memorial Winnipeg Rh Institute Foundation Award, in recognition of outstanding research accomplishments as an established University of Manitoba faculty member. At the event, he provided a presentation on Bush Ethics: Decolonizing the University that raised broad concerns about how university practices remain complicit with colonialism, and conversely how universities can assist in the struggle to decolonize.

Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice: Begade Shutagot’ine and the Sahtu Treaty
By Peter Kulchyski
University of Manitoba Press, 2018
$24.95 paperback
Available online and in stores.

Posted in Publications.

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