The primary objective of the self-government initiative is to restore the balance of power to Whitecap Dakota First Nation. Self-governance allows communities to shape their social and economic well-being. Under self-government, bands develop and enforce their own laws regarding education, culture, finance, and lands. The Minister of Indian Affairs will no longer decide which laws could be passed, or which priorities are important.

The community would become the ultimate authority over its own affairs in almost all of the sections of the Indian Act. Our governance structure will be developed by our members through a community constitution and will be accountable to our own members. Whitecap Dakota First Nation’s Self Government department has three main focus areas:

WDFN Governance Agreement in Principle

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Self-Government Negotiations | Dakota Reconciliation | Dakota Commemoration

Our staff works closely in consultation with Chief and Council, the Self-Government Advisory Committee, Elders and community members to ensure that these projects are sensitive to Dakota perspectives, culture and customs.

Self-Government Negotiations

For Whitecap, the road to self-governance began on April 27, 2009, when the community gave the mandate to begin the process. The entire process is broken up into three stages, shown below:

The first step down that road is the Framework Agreement. Whitecap Dakota First Nation signed its Framework Agreement to initiate self-government negotiations on January 25, 2012. Whitecap has been working with Canada to move forward on the Agreement-in-Principle Negotiations and they are now well underway. The AIP negotiations are targeted for completion in 3-5 years. Internal work in support of the self-government process also includes the development of a Membership Code and Constitution. These are being developed in consultation with the community, and with a Self-Government Advisory Committee, made up of Whitecap Elders and community members.

Dakota Reconciliation

Dakota Reconciliation Since the mid-1970’s, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation has sought recognition as a First Nation within Canada on a basis similar to other Treaty First Nations through the Comprehensive Claims Policy, Specific Claims Policy, and now through a reconciliation process. Canada’s position is that the Dakota were “ American Indians” (i.e. an American based plains tribe) as opposed to “ British Indians” ; and not indigenous to Canada. However, anthropological and archival records clearly establish Dakota use and occupation of portions of Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan sufficient to establish an aboriginal interest in these lands.

As well, politically, considerable research has been completed demonstrating a strong relationship between the British Crown and the Dakota, dating back to the 18th century. Currently, Whitecap Dakota First Nation is working with Canada to resolve this claim, with the objective to identify a mutually-acceptable path to an enduring reconciliation. On July 7, 2012, Whitecap Dakota First Nation and Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding that signifies an important step in the path to reconciliation. The MOU is a reflection of history of peace and partnership between the Dakota and Canada. The MOU commits Whitecap and Canada to work together over the next year to find possible solutions which the Minister can then take to Cabinet to seek a mandate for formal negotiations on Dakota Reconciliation.


Dakota Commemoration

The Dakota have a long standing history of bridging relationships in aid of their allies. Commemorative activities and events are meant to recognize the Dakota-Crown alliance, which extends back to the eighteenth century, and the contribution of the Dakota to Canadian history. Ancestors of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation had a long-standing alliance to the British Crown, which was affirmed through many promises and agreements, including a signed treaty in 1787. The Dakota upheld their promises of alliance by assisting the British in the Pontiac Wars, The American Revolution, and the War of 1812.

The legacy of partnership between Whitecap Dakota First Nation and the community of Saskatoon began with Chief Whitecap and John Lake — a partnership that celebrates its 130th anniversary this year. In many ways, the story of the War of 1812 acts as a both a prelude to and an explanation of the lasting legacy of this partnership. The 1812 commemoration activities celebrate this “ spirit of alliance” . . Whitecap has taken the lead in coordinating events and activities commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Our plans are heavily focused around educational and interactive elements. Central to this will be the important role that the Dakota played throughout this conflict, as well as the contribution of multicultural allies, whose descendants now reside in Western Canada.

1812 Bicentennial

Saskatoon 1812: June 17-18, 2012 Saskatoon River Landing

Our kick-off event occurred on June 17-18, 2012 in downtown Saskatoon. This was the only regional event commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 in Saskatchewan.
The day began with opening ceremonies and speeches from dignitaries and officials. Multicultural performances occurred throughout the day, and were woven together with a narrative explaining each group’s involvement in the War of 1812. A dramatic production explored the role of the Dakota in the War of 1812 and the overarching story of the Dakota-Crown relationship.

Evening entertainment included a headline performer, as well as the Saskatoon Symphony’s performance of the War of 1812 Overture, and ended with fireworks. June 18, 2012 marked the Bicentennial of the day that the War of 1812 officially began. The events held on this day focused on leaving a lasting educational legacy, in anticipation of the Dakota and the War of 1812 History Booklet and curriculum material currently under development in partnership with Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Saskatoon Public School Division, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and the Saskatchewan Dakota Nations. Approximately 800 school children from Saskatoon and area schools attended the day’s events.

Dakota and the War of 1812 Curriculum Booklet: September, 2012

The first piece of the War of 1812 Education Kit was released by the Office of the Treaty Commissioner for use in Saskatchewan schools. The OTC has been working in partnership with the Saskatchewan Dakota Nations, Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Saskatoon Public School Division, and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

This curriculum material is intended to supplement the current Treaty Education Kits, which have been provided as a resource to all Saskatchewan schools. The process of developing this history booklet has involved participation and consultation with Elders and community members from each of the Dakota Nations in Saskatchewan, ensuring that their story will be told.

War of 1812 Monument: 2012 – 2014

Whitecap Dakota First Nation plans to erect a monument in Saskatoon to recognize the War of 1812 as a milestone in the development of Canada. The vision for the monument is to represent the multicultural allies who participated in the War of 1812, and whose descendants now reside in our country’s prairie provinces. It will leave a lasting legacy for Saskatoon and area residents and visitors, acting as a constant reminder of the many partnerships and alliances that laid the basis of our nation.

Whitecap Dakota First Nation will consult with the City of Saskatoon’s Public Art program and Visual Arts Placement Jury to develop a call for artists and determine a meaningful location for the piece. Whitecap’s monument selection process will involve a maquette (mock up) and jury process. Dedication and unveiling celebrations will engage the public, and convey the importance of 1812 to our community history.