About The Project | DOIG RIVER FIRST NATION
We are the Doig River First Nation, one of four Dane-zaa (sometimes referred to as Beaver Indian) communities of the Peace River area of northeastern British Columbia, Canada.
Our traditional hunting and trapping grounds include vast areas that extend in all directions from our current reserve at Hanás̱ Saahgéʔ (Doig River). Our reserve was established in 1952, and is located 70 km northeast of Fort St. John, B.C., on approximately 2500 acres. The surrounding area is rich in natural resources, including major oil and gas deposits. Our band is made up of 220 people, half of whom live on our reserve.
Today, our people are living in a hybrid world that integrates non-aboriginal culture and economy with our Dane-zaa traditional knowledge and hunting culture. We are engaged in a range of business ventures and cultural activities that are focused on strengthening our economic base, improving the health of our community, and maintaining Dane-zaa traditions and language.
In July of 2003 we opened our new Cultural and Administrative Centre on our Doig River Reserve. This was made possible in part by our 1998 financial settlement with the Federal Government in a breach of trust case (see Gat Tah Kwą (Montney)). Our beautiful facility includes a museum, a gym, our administrative and health care offices, community gathering spaces, and outdoor rodeo grounds. Our Cultural Centre is a place where we gather to socialize and to dance to our Dreamers' songs. It is also the place where we meet with politicians and developers to assert our rights to our lands.
Until the mid-1950s, we lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. We traveled seasonally within our Peace River country from the Rocky Mountains to the plains of Alberta to hunt, gather, and socialize with other Dane-zaa kinship groups.
In 1794, Rocky Mountain Fort was established in our traditional territories, and we began to participate in the fur trade. As a result of the fur trade, European culture slowly started to impact our traditional way of living.
In 1900 we signed Treaty 8 in an effort to preserve our lands and natural resources from outside interests. By 1914, we were allotted reserve land at Gat Tah Kwą̂ (Montney), one of our traditional gathering places, but for several decades we continued to travel freely throughout our traditional land.
During World War II, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Alaska Highway across our traditional territory. After the war, the highway allowed an influx of settlers and developers to come into our land, and our lifestyle changed dramatically. We were forced to settle on reserves and to send our children to government schools. The Department of Indian Affairs agreed to sell our first reserve at Gat Tah Kwą̂ (Montney), to the Department of Veteran's Affairs, and we were forced to move further north, to the land on Hanás̱ Saahgéʔ (the Doig River), where our community is centered today.
Johnny Oker and Gerry Attachie, talking about the Doig River Rodeo, 2000.
Click to Watch