“To secure the foundation for Pays Plat to grow.”
PAYS PLAT FIRST NATION is home to a healthy and active community who enjoy modern amenities while staying in touch with their history and traditional ways of life. Pays Plat has many assets that are beneficial to its residents: a community hall, fire hall, water treatment plant, pow-wow grounds, firewood processing yard, multipurpose facility, and a business center. Community members have access to groceries and other retail items at the gas station. Pays Plat also offers many cultural activities to its members, including an annual pow-wow in July.
The Pays Plat mission statement is a testament to the community’s desire to develop and grow sustainably, and to provide for its members.
The people of Pays Plat have occupied the north shore of Lake Superior since time immemorial. The first recorded document of the area and its people was in 1777, when a fur trader named John Long passed through and noted that it was a flat area between two mountains. This is how the name Pays Plat – or ‘flat land’ – came about. The people who lived in the area called it Pawgwasheeng or ‘where the water is shallow’. During the 1850’s, Colonial government negotiator William Robinson established a series of treaties on the watersheds of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. These treaties were drafted to reduce the conflict between European settlers and the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this region, and to open up land for exploration and settlement. These treaties were divided into their respective lakes’ watersheds and named after William Robinson – they are the Robinson-Huron and the Robinson-Superior Treaties, respectively. These two treaties set the example for later negotiations with Indigenous peoples – leading to the numbered treaties. In addition, key components of the treaties such as the payment of annuities, the ceding of land to the Crown, and the guarantee of hunting and fishing rights for Indigenous peoples on Crown land began with the Robinson Treaties.
Ojibwa Chiefs from across the north shore signed the Robinson-Superior Treaty on September 7th, 1850 in Sault Ste. Marie. This treaty was written to include the people who would later settle in the region of Pays Plat. Although according to oral history they were out hunting at the time, and so were unaware of the signing. They only became aware of the treaty in 1883 when the Canadian Pacific Railway came to the area to build the railroad. The people of this region were allotted a single square mile of reserve land to live on, around the right of ways that were carved through the land.
Since 1883, the community of Pays Plat has had numerous developments across its traditional lands and its allotted reserve. The right of ways for the highway and hydro lines cut across the community, and since the early 1990’s the community has been involved in a Land and Larger Land Base claim to deal with this issue. An Agreement-in-Principle was signed in 2009 on adding lands to the reserve. Drafting of the final agreement is underway.
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