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White Bear First Nation

Chief Wahpemakwa (White Bear) signed Treaty 4 in 1875 and accepted a reserve on the east side of Moose Mountain in 1877. While his Cree and Saulteaux members explored some agriculture, they preferred to follow their traditional lifestyle. In 1901 the Ocean Man and Pheasant Rump Bands were amalgamated onto the reserve, with the promise that its boundaries would be extended; but it was two years before this occurred, and only after the band agreed to pay $1.23 an acre for the land. Descendants of the amalgamated communities became involved in a claim against the federal government to regain the surrendered reserves. This claim enabled the White Bear Band to invest funds received as part of the settlement for their own economic development. In recent years the band has assumed control of the White Bear Lake resort (1978–79), and built the White Bear Golf Course (1987, 1992), White Bear Oil and Gas, Ltd. (1993), and the Bear Claw Casino and Lodge (1996). (The Bear Claw Casino had officially opened to the public on February 26th, 1993 in the golf course club house.) Reserve facilities include the band office, an arena, powwow grounds, a health clinic, and a school gymnasium. Currently, 785 of the 2,118 band members live on the 12,038.4-ha reserve.

Christian Thompson

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