The Buffalo River Dene Nation (Peter Pond Lake) signed Treaty 10 on August 28, 1906. Research indicates that the Dene people were encouraged by the Hudson’s Bay Company to move southward toward the Churchill River in the mid-1700s to trap beaver. Before settling at Buffalo River, the Band is thought to have lived at Buffalo Narrows for a period of time in the 1890s. In 1972, the Peter Pond Band was divided into the Turnor Lake (Birch Narrows First Nation) and Buffalo River First Nations. Their 8,259.7-hectare reserve is located about 84 km northwest of Ile-à-la-Crosse, and the largest community is at Dillon. Of a total of 1,090 band members, 567 live on their reserve. The Buffalo River First Nation hunted and trapped around Watapi Lake, and thus became one of the many First Nations bands filing claims for land and economic development losses through the creation of the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range in 1954; in addition to the value of this land for food harvesting, the prohibition to utilize the rangelands hindered their ability to travel to meet their relatives at Cold Lake. Economic resources include trapping, fishing, and timber; economic potential exists in oil, gas, platinum, uranium, diamonds, and water. Community infrastructure includes a band office, school and teacherage, fire hall, band hall, arena, gas station, and community maintenance facilities.

Christian Thompson