The Cumberland House Cree signed an adhesion to Treaty 5 in September 1876, and a reserve was surveyed for them in 1883. This initial survey included an island (named Chief’s Island) on which the chief, a councilor, and a number of the band’s members resided. A lay reader and the Reverend Davis also lived within the community. Before the surveyor left the area, the chief requested that a reserve be laid out for himself and his people near Fort à la Corne, knowing that there was better agricultural land in that region; however, the government would not grant reserve land outside of their own treaty area. The band’s attempt at growing potatoes, cabbage, turnips, carrots, onions and lettuce was successful, but their grain production was not. The soil of Chief’s Island is of fair quality, ranging from stony areas to small hay marshes, wetlands, and timberland. Band members still rely on hunting, fishing and trapping, while the forestry industry, tourism, guiding, and hunting camps contribute to furthering their economic development. Their community infrastructure includes a school and gymnasium, teacherage, health clinic, band office, and community maintenance facilities. The Cumberland House Reserve totals 2,145.8 ha; while their total band membership sits at 957 people, only 535 members live on the reserve, 160 km northeast of Nipawin.

Christian Thompson