NOTE: The premier can talk about a new working relationship re: Devils Lake, but
not Cross Lake.
March 21, 2000
NORTH DAKOTA INDIAN TRIBES TO JOIN MANITOBA
IN CALL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF DEVILS LAKE OUTLET
WINNIPEG, Manitoba--Premier Gary Doer and Manitoba Aboriginal leaders today
welcomed the participation of the leaders of the Spirit Lake Tribe and the
Three Affiliated Tribes in seeking the immediate completion of a
comprehensive, public environmental impact study of the Devils Lake Outlet
proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and for the
release of all studies conducted to date.
In addition, the participants called for immediate comprehensive, public
environmental assessment of any other Devils Lake stabilization projects,
including the Twin Lakes Temporary Emergency Outlet. The participants also
agreed to seek a full environmental impact study on both sides of the border
with appropriate resources obtained from the two federal governments to
ensure that independent research will be available to Aboriginal and Indian
Addressing a delegation of North Dakota and Manitoba Aboriginal leaders
gathered to discuss the impacts of the Devils Lake Outlet on Aboriginal
communities on both sides of the border, Doer welcomed the participation of
the leaders of the Spirit Lake Tribe and the Three Affiliated Tribes.
"The participation of the leaders of the Spirit Lake Tribe and the Three
Affiliated Tribes will significantly enhance Manitoba's chances of
encouraging the U.S. federal government to subject the project to a full
environmental assessment," said Doer.
During a daylong meeting with the leaders of the Spirit Lake Tribe and the
Three Affiliated Tribes, Doer, along with provincial ministers Oscar
Lathlin, minister of conservation, and Eric Robinson, minister of Aboriginal
and northern affairs, discussed the short and long-term impacts of the
proposal on Aboriginal communities in both countries.
In representing the Spirit Lake Tribe, Tribal Chairman Phillip Longie and
Tex Hall of the Three Affiliated Tribes indicated their shared concerns on
an indigenous nation-to-nation basis with Aboriginal Manitoba leaders
regarding water quality and expressed their interest in completion of a
comprehensive environmental assessment for the project under NEPA.
The two chairmen indicated that moving forward on environmental studies
would assist in resolving concerns raised about the project. The province,
in recognizing the impact of the outlet project on water quality, also
stressed the need for a full-scale environmental assessment and called for
the expansion of the environmental assessment process to examine the
project's impact on Canadian waters.
Also in attendance and representing Manitoba Aboriginal concerns were Rod
Bushie, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs; Dennis WhiteBird,
vice-chief of the Assembly of First Nations; Francis Flett, grand chief of
the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak; Bill Traverse, grand chief of the
Southern Chiefs Organization; Sonny Klyne, president of the Northern
Association of Community Councils; David Chartrand, president of the
Manitoba Metis Federation; Norman Traverse, chief of the Lake St. Martin
First Nation; Ken Whitecloud, chief of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation; Emery
Stagg, chairman of the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council; and Doug
Ballentyne, chief of the Grand Rapids First Nation.
"This meeting will foster a new working relationship between the U.S. and
Canada's indigenous peoples to address the environmental concerns affecting
North America," said Robinson. "Our hope is that this meeting is the first
of many such meetings to come."
The Devils Lake drainage outlet is designed to lower the water level of the
lake to address the flooding problem in the region. Manitoba, and those
opposed to the project, insist that the project will not solve the flooding
problem but will simply transfer the problem downstream into Manitoba.
Manitoba is also concerned with the potential risks to the environmental
integrity of the Hudson's Bay Drainage Basin through the introduction of
foreign biota and invasive species to the water supply. The introduction of
such species could adversely affect the Lake Winnipeg fishery, the largest
freshwater fishery in North America.
"Aboriginal people on both sides of the border have expressed concerns
regarding the impacts of the Devils Lake proposal on their present
environment," said Lathlin. "We must ensure that these concerns are
addressed to protect the livelihood and well-being of the present and future
The participants also agreed to pursue a continued dialogue on
cross-boundary water issues.