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About Us - Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation

The first meeting that Samuel de Champlain had with the Algonquins occurred at Tadoussac, near Quebec City, in the summer of 1603, when Champlain wrote of making contact with a trading party that he came to know as the Algonquins, under Chief Tessouat. He later made contact with Chief Tessouat at Morrison's Island, near Pembroke in 1613. Algonquin guides also accompanied Étienne Brûlé in 1610 on his voyages to the interior of Canada.

The word Algonquin came from the Malecite word meaning "they are our relatives". Champlain realized that this group - which referred to itself as "Anishinabeg", meaning "human being" - held the key to his eventual success in making his way inland, since their language was the key to communication and commerce. Indeed, it is said to have been as esteemed as Latin or Greek was in Europe at the time. Every fur trader who hoped to be successful in exploring the interior of Canada prepared for the journey by familiarizing himself with the Algonquin language, since it was recognized as the root language of many other Aboriginal languages.

Gordon M. Day states that "the Algonquins were spread over an extensive territory, a tribe related by language and customs. Although the prehistory of the Ottawa Valley is practically unknown, the Algonquins were on the Ottawa and its tributary valleys (Petite Nation, Lièvre, Gatineau and South Nation) in the early French period.

“Algonquin territory was bounded on the east by the county of the Montagnais. In the 1800s, Algonquins were hunting up the Saint Maurice River and eastward to the Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade River. They regarded this area as their ancient territory. To the west their territory was bounded by that of the Nipissing and Ojibwa, and to the north by that of the Cree - though the actual boundary lines are not known - but the southern boundary, with the Iroquois, was a theoretical line from a rock at Burlington Bay on Lake Champlain in the east, to Oswegatchie (on the St. Lawrence River at Ogdensbury, New York) in the West.

“The Algonquins thought of themselves as part of the natural world with which, for their own well-being, they must live in harmony. The Indian religion has been little understood by Europeans. Missionaries wanted to replace it with some form of Christianity, or dismissed it with terms like 'superstition' and 'magic'. Algonquin thinkers, like European philosophers, concluded that the world of natural things could not have made itself and that there was one who made all things. They addressed him as 'you that made all' and offered him tobacco and corn. He [was] thought of as the owner of everything. He is widely known today under the name Kitchi Manito, 'the Great Spirit', but this name may have been coined by the missionaries.

“Algonquins continue to live on the Ottawa and its tributaries in the twentieth century. There are bands or families at Golden Lake, at River Desert (Maniwaki) at Temiskaming and other points on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Temiscaming: Quinze, Mattawa, Kipawa, Lac Dumoine and Rivière Coulogne. There are bands in Northern Ontario and Quebec at Abitibi, Grand Lac Victoria, Lac Simon and Lac Barrière."

Ancestors of the Mattawa-North Bay Algonquins used Mattawa, which means the "meeting of the waters", as a staging point to rest and repair their birchbark canoes after, or prior to, attempting the Mattawa River run while hunting or delivering furs. Mr. Doug Mackey states that "two groups of Algonquins under Antoine Kiwiwisens and Amable du Fond settled in Mattawa more permanently in the early eighteen hundreds. Their hunting territory was to the northwest and southwest of the Mattawa River respectively."

At the time of the conquest, there was no white settlement in Mattawa and points west throughout the Lake Nipissing and French River District. However, by the beginning of the twentieth century, white settlement had occurred, leaving natives in these areas in a minority position. For instance, the 1901 census results for Mattawa indicate that only 30 families (7.5% of the population) were native. This influx of European settlement was attributable largely to the lumber era in the late 1800s, which saw lumber barons such as J.R. Booth, who became one of the wealthiest men in Canada, obtain land grants from the crown and attract settlers to exploit the rich forest resources of the area.

The Algonquin Nation asserts that it has signed no treaties, sold no lands or lost no wars, which would have led to the surrender of their lands. Therefore, there is no Mattawa-North Bay Reserve, such as those established for Aboriginal groups that signed treaties such as the Robinson-Huron Treaty in 1853, when seventeen signatory First Nations surrendered 19,000,000 acres. As a result, in 1985 the parties to the current Algonquin Land Claim asserted their historical claim against Canada and Ontario to 8,900,000 acres that fall within the Ontario portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa River watersheds. This land includes most of Algonquin Park, as well as CFB Petawawa and the National Capital Region, including Parliament Hill.


"In 1983 the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the only 'status' Algonquin Community that is located in Ontario, who live on a 632 hectare parcel of reserved land near Golden Lake, petitioned the Crown in right of Ottawa and Canada to recognize its aboriginal title.

The Algonquin Nation, in asserting their claim, rely on Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which provides constitutional protection to the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Over the last decade, the Supreme Court of Canada has tried to clarify the meaning and effect of such rights in its rulings on a number of important Aboriginal rights and title cases.

In December 1983, in the flush of the new Canadian constitution, the Supreme Courts of Ontario and Canada both recognized the validity of a document that was proclaimed and presented in 1763 to the Algonquin and Nippissing peoples by Sir William Johnson, the highest British Official in North America at the time. That document, whose certified original copy remains in the National Archives of Canada to this day, pledged the Crown's honour in protecting land rights of the Algonquins and the Nippissings."

"Following a comprehensive historical and legal review of the Algonquin claim, Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with the Algonquins in 1991. The province recognized there was merit in seeking a negotiated settlement of the claim. This does not mean that Ontario has admitted legal liability, but that the government believes negotiation with the Algonquins, rather than litigation, offers the best route toward a lasting settlement of the issues. Canada joined the negotiations in December 1992, following its own independent review of the Algonquin claim.

The Algonquin Land Claim is based on assertions of Aboriginal rights, which means that these negotiations address matters such as possible rights and title to land and natural resources, including the future exercise of hunting, fishing and gathering rights within the claim area.

Elements of a possible claim settlement may include economic development initiatives, land, financial compensation, defined resource harvesting rights covering fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering, and related cultural matters.

In 1994 the Chief and Council at Pikwakanagan passed a law enabling them to seek out non-status Algonquins, those of Algonquin descent who have no affiliation with Pikwakanagan but can prove Algonquin ancestry. This brought non-status communities into the process. There are six communities that have been identified and sit together on a tribal council. They are: the Antoine First Nation, based in Mattawa, the Mattawa-North Bay First Nation, based in North Bay, the Algonquins of greater Golden Lake, based in Killaloe, the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation, based in Renfrew, the Sharbot Mishigama Algonquin First Nation, based in Sharbot Lake, and the the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, also based in Sharbot Lake."

"In 1994, the three negotiating parties - Ontario, Canada and the Algonquins - signed a Framework for Negotiations in order to set out various procedures to guide negotiations. The three chief negotiatiors also signed a Statement of Shared Objectives which continues to form part of the guiding principles for the negotiations."

Before being suspended in 2002 to allow the Algonquins to address some internal issues, the negotiations produced the following shared objectives which were signed in 1994 and confirmed by the negotiating parties again in 2001. They are as follows:

  • Avoid creating injustices for anyone;
  • Establish certainty and finality with respect to title, rights and interests in the land and natural resources;
  • Identify and protect Algonquin rights;
  • Protect the rights of private landowners, including their rights of access and use to their land;
  • Enhance the economic opportunities of the Algonquins, with the intention of also benefiting and promoting general economic opportunities in the area;
  • Ensure that Algonquin Park remains a park;
  • Establish mechanisms for managing the lands and natural resources affected by the settlement; and
  • Continue to consult with interested parties and keep the public informed on the progress of negotiations.

"The final settlement is expected to take the form of a modern-day treaty which will provide certainty of legal title to lands in the region and will give legal force to a lasting and comprehesive settlement of all outstanding issues related to this Aboriginal claim."

At the present time there are approximately 900 registered members of the Mattawa-North Bay Algonquin First Nation, while it is estimated that there are approximately the same number of people who qualify but have not applied for membership.

If you believe that you or a person you know might qualify as a member of the Mattawa-North Bay Algonquin First Nation, please click here.

Footnotes

1 This historical sketch is drawn from "The Indians of the Ottawa Valley" by Gordon M. Day of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and used with the permission of Mr. Day. The entire document may be viewed at

2 Doug Mackey, Mattawa Roots Buried in History, Heritage Perspectives, June 2, 2000.

3 Despite numerous assurances made to the Algonquins, including the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774, Algonquin Territory was increasingly being occupied by white settlers and lumber companies seeking to exploit the forests of the Ottawa River." Source: KPMG, Algonquin People of Mattawa and North Bay Economic Development Plan, July 7, 1998.

4 A total of 30 petitions have been registered dating back to 1772, asserting the Algonquin claim to their lands. Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat: Algonquin Land Claim History, page 2.

"In 1994 the Chief and Council at Pikwakanagan passed a law enabling them to seek out non-status Algonquins, those of Algonquin descent who have no affiliation with Pikwakanagan but can prove Algonquin ancestry. This brought non-status communities into the process. There are six communities that have been identified and sit together on a tribal council. They are: the Antoine First Nation, based in Mattawa, the Mattawa-North Bay First Nation, based in North Bay, the Algonquins of greater Golden Lake, based in Killaloe, the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation, based in Renfrew, The Sharbot Mishigama Algonquin First Nation, based in Sharbot Lake, and the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, also based in Sharbot Lake." Source: Land O' Lakes News Web, Algonquin Land Claim in Ontario --- A Brief History.

5 Land O' Lakes News Web, Algonquin Land Claim in Ontario - A Brief History, June 2003.

6 Land O' Lakes News Web, Algonquin Land Claim in Ontario - A Brief History, June 2003.

7 Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, Algonquin Land Claim Facts, August 24, 2002.

8 Source:

http://www.nativeaffairs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/algonquin/claim_info/objectives.htm

, Shared Objectives

9 Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, Algonquin Land Claim Facts, August 24, 2002.

© Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation

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