The life of Anicinabe was quite structured, regularly grouping at the same time and same places for various reasons. In late June and early July, the Manitou Rapids on the Winnipeg River was a meeting place to fish and make grand medicine. Other favorite hunting spots in early spring and late fall were along Catfish Creek and at Point au Mitasse on the lake. In early August to late September, many went to Lac du Bonnet especially where the Pinawa River enters Winnipeg River to gather wild rice.
Hunting grounds were also fairly stationary throughout the winter. Each family had their own favorite territory which could have been as close to the Fort as Catfish Creek or as far away as the Dalles, Eagles Nest, Big Island, or along the lake as far north as Black River. At some of the better winter hunting grounds several families would camp close together. The Hudson Bay Company in competition with the Red River and American free traders would frequently establish an outpost at these groupings. The Dalles and Eagles Nest were two major outposts used by the Original People who would later become the Fort Alexander Band.
Fort Alexander Band signed Treaty One at Lower Fort Garry on August 3, 1871.
The lands and waterways have long been a part of the economic wellbeing and transportation system of the Sagkeeng Anicinabe.
With traditional territory located within the present Treaty 1, 3 and 5 territories. The reserve is situated where the Winnipeg River empties into Lake Winnipeg. At the time of first survey in 1874 the reserve lands consisted of approximately 21,674 acres.
Hydro development has long been a part of the lives of members of the Sagkeeng First Nation. Sagkeeng was among the first of the First Nation communities in Manitoba to be impacted by Hydro development. The impacts of hydro development on traditional lands and waterways and on the cultural practices and traditions of the Sagkeeng First Nation have been witnessed and experienced by its members for over a hundred years yet members have seen little in the way of compensation for the impacts on their lands, waterways and lives in general.
There are six generating stations on the Winnipeg River in Manitoba providing electrical output for sale to customers in Manitoba and beyond. The Winnipeg River watershed is regulated in both Ontario and the U.S. and Lake Winnipeg is regulated by Manitoba Hydro and used as a reservoir for power generation on the Nelson River.
The general consensus on the part of members is that their lands, waterways and way of life have borne and continue to bear the brunt of hydro developments that were undertaken with little or no discussion with them. In their perspective, little to no thought was given as to how development was impacting their way of life, their health and the exercise of their Treaty and Aboriginal rights.
Traditionally, First Nations hunted, trapped, fished and harvested to feed, dress and shelter themselves. Settlement, development and modernization have resulted in a decline of this way of life. There are members who still want to hunt, trap and fish – activities that were guaranteed by the treaties – but development has encroached on lands used to exercise these rights. In addition, laws and conservation policy put in place by the government further inhibit the exercise of Treaty and Aboriginal rights. Conservation is not a concept that was foreign to First Nations. In fact, members understood the growth cycles quite well and they knew when they could harvest medicines, rice or berries in ways that would ensure the continued availability of these resources. Members also understand, as a way of life, that what you take from the lands should be given back.