Alberta Native News - Book Review

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
FAX: 403-437-0719

January 5, 1992

Enclosed for your information is another review of John Goddard's book on the struggle of the Lubicons.

From ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS, December, 1991



by John Goddard

Douglas and McIntyre;

228 pages.

Review by Dale Stelter

For some time, the Lubicon Lake Band of northern Alberta has been gaining international support for its decades-long land rights dispute. The Lubicon maintain that they have never signed a treaty with the federal government and therefore have never given up Aboriginal title to their traditional lands.

And now, there is a powerful book available that holds a relentless magnifying glass up to the campaign that has been waged against the Lubicon by Canadian and Alberta governments, and large and powerful resource exploitation companies. LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE reveals that grimy and despicable campaign in well-researched, well-documented detail.

It's all there: the wholescale invasion of Lubicon territory by dozens of oil and gas companies, the long and fruitless years in court, the 1988 declaration by the Lubicon of sovereignty over their traditional lands, the federal government's 1989 surprise take-it-or-leave-it (and grossly inadequate) settlement offer to the Lubicon, and the "divide and conquer" efforts of the federal government in hastily creating the Woodland Cree band. And there's more. Lots more.

The initial portion of the book is devoted mainly to historical materials, and some parts of the Lubicon story are documented, or related in detail, for widespread reading for the first time. For example, during the 1940s, an Indian Affairs official named Malcolm McCrimmon removed more than 700 people from the treaty lists of northern Alberta and cut the Lubicon membership almost in half. Two inquiries censored McCrimmon, but he was placed in charge of implementing inquiry recommendations, and most of his removals remained in effect.

Or, during the 1960s, the residents of Marten River, a community in Lubicon territory, were persuaded to move to nearby Cadotte Lake. Many people were unhappy with the move, but when they tried to return home, Marten River was bulldozed. Two years later, the site next to Marten River became the first producing oil field in Lubicon territory.

At the same time, LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE tells the story of a small Indian band that has waged a courageous struggle of resistance against monumental and staggering odds. As Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak says, "We've been counted down and out so many times, but we've refused to give in to anybody. We're still here."

As Chief Ominayak also points out, John Goddard has done an excellent job of documenting a long-standing and extremely complex story. For example, he has sorted out all of the intertwined and tangled threads of the campaign being waged against the Lubicon, and laid them out in chronological sequence.

LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE is also written in a rivetting, highly readable manner that grasps your attention and never lets go.

Hopefully, LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE will receive wide circulation in the mainstream society, as the Lubicon have for some time been relying heavily upon the raising of public support for their cause. Furthermore, the Lubicon continue to come under siege from Daishowa of Canada, a subsidiary of a huge Japanese transnational pulp and paper company, and are saying that if the trees are cut down, they are finished as a people.

If enough people read LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE, the already formidable ranks of people around the world who are placing the Canadian government under a merciless spotlight, and demanding justice for the Lubicon, will be bound to increase.