The Nekaneet First Nation signed Treaty 4 on September 15, 1874, under the leadership of Foremost Man (Front Man), who refused to relocate when other bands were forced out of the Cypress Hills in 1882. From 1882 to 1913 they were denied a reserve, and between 1882 and 1975 did not receive annuity payments. On August 2, 1913, a reserve of 1,440 acres near Maple Creek was created, and in 1914 funds were authorized to fence it. Very little was done to aid the survival of this community, and it was not until 1955 that the band’s children were permitted to attend local schools. On January 10, 1958, an Order-in-Council increased the reserve’s acreage, but the poor quality of the land continued to prohibit any type of agriculture except small-scale cattle ranching. It was finally concluded that the band’s members were indeed Treaty Indians, and they began receiving annuity payments in 1968. In 1987, Nekaneet band members sought compensation for outstanding lawful obligations, but it was not until 1998 that Canada accepted the band’s claim for benefits. To this day, the band faces enormous economic problems, and band members are forced to seek employment off reserve. In order to improve their economic situation they must either obtain more agriculturally viable land or be financially aided in other enterprises. Currently 167 of the 407 band members reside on the 5,602-ha reserve, 121 km southwest of Swift Current.

Christian Thompson