For the Lakeside Leader
It took years of negotiations, but Driftpile and Sucker Creek First Nations have begun receiving or will soon receive their ‘cows and plows’ cheques. Both First Nations posted announcements on their websites.
“First, we want to thank the members for your patience throughout the Agricultural Benefits Specific Claims (cows and plows) process,” wrote Driftpile chief and council in a Dec. 4 statement. “We have finally reached the final stage of the process, which is distribution day.”
Driftpile began releasing money on Dec. 4 through direct deposit and manual cheques, the latter being from 2 – 9 p.m. at the Driftpile Community Hall.
The band did advise “that if you are not a full band member by the date of distribution you will not be eligible for the PCD (per capital distribution).”
Sucker Creek chief and council released a statement on Dec. 2.
“Further to the ratification vote held on Sept. 5, and the successful ratification of the cows and plows claim, chief and council can advise of the following,” they wrote.
“Chief and council have negotiated an expedited PCD payment option that will result in members receiving their (payment) only three months following the ratification vote.”
The payment will be issued to band members by Dec. 12. Like Driftpile, only full members qualify.
“Chief and council once again thanks you all for participating in this great achievement for our Nations,” says the Sucker Creek announcement.
Specifics on the amount of the payments were not disclosed in either statement. However, amounts do appear in reports of cows and plows settlements elsewhere. For example, Bigstone Cree Nation members reportedly received $3,500 apiece, with the rest going into a trust fund.
There are still questions about whether the federal government actually owes Bigstone more. Chief Silas Yellowknee said a year ago that lawyers were looking into it, and vowed that “every penny” received would go to the members.
According to a CBC News story, a First Nation in the Northwest Territory paid out $30,000 per member. The K’atl’odeeche First Nation, with 649 members, received $28.3 million in its settlement.
Cows and plows is the nickname for promises made by the signers of Treaty 8, to provide First Nations members the means to take up farming. For the most part, it never happened. The recent financial settlements represent the fulfillment of those promises made over 100 years ago.