The Tse’khene is a south westerly extension of the Athapascan speaking people of northern Canada. We were a nomadic hunting people who controlled the basins of the Parsnip and Finley Rivers and the valley of the Peace River in British Columbia. Living on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, we are the “People of the Rocks”. The language of the Tse’khene belongs to the Beaver-Sarcee-Tse’khene branch of Athapaskan.
The McLeod Lake Tse’khene was first encountered by Alexander Mackenzie on his journey to the Pacific Ocean in 1797. In 1805, the Northwest Company erected British Columbia’s first fur trading post at the mouth of the Pack River on McLeod Lake.
In 1898, the Klondike gold rush brought thousands of prospectors into the Peace River region on their way north. During the fall of that year, some 500 Beaver and Tse’khene peoples refused passage through their territories. Fearing violence, the Government of Canada promised Aboriginal peoples a treaty. In 1898, Treaty Number 8 was proposed and during the next 15 years, the Government of Canada signed up various Indian Bands in north eastern British Columbia. The Government of Canada did not sign McLeod Lake Tse’khene to Treaty 8 at that time.
In 1987, McLeod Lake Indian Band advised the Government of Canada that it wished to join Treaty 8. Canada agreed to an adhesion to the Treaty but the Province of British Columbia refused to transfer land. In 1988, McLeod Lake Indian Band obtained an injunction preventing the harvesting of timber on their lands. In 1992, negotiations with British Columbia and Canada commenced, and in 2000, McLeod Lake Band ratified an agreement with the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia that brought the Band into Treaty 8.
The Treaty Adhesion Settlement provided the Band with an undisclosed amount of dollars that is held in trust and some 20,000 hectares of forest lands, Indian Reserve lands, and fee simple lands. The Band is permitted to spend the interest beyond inflation and projected population growth from the Trust on administrative, community and economic development projects provided that the elected Board of Trustees ensures the projects meet the criteria set out in the Trust Agreement.
The traditional territory of McLeod Lake Tse’khene is approximately 108,000 square kilometers:
- To the south, the height of land separating the Arctic and Pacific watersheds near Summit Lake;
- To the east, following that height of land to the border of British Columbia and Alberta;
- To the north, following the border to the Peace River, west, following the southern bank of the Peace River to Williston Lake, south, following the western bank of Williston Lake to the western bank of Manson Arm, south, along the west bank of Manson Arm, southwest and west, along the height of land between Manson River and Eklund Creek and Jackfish Creek, southwest; and,
- To the west, along the height of land between the Nation River watershed and the Omineca River watershed, south and east along the height of land separating the Arctic and Pacific watersheds to the commencement point.