DECEMBER 11, 1997


After many years of failed negotiations with British Columbia (B.C.), in 1984, the hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan (Delgamuukw) & Wet’suwet’en First Nations (FNs) filed suit with the Supreme Court of B.C. (BCSC) using oral histories in support of their land claims.  In 1991, BCSC ruled that any title claim died when B.C. joined the Confederation.  The ruling was upheld on appeal to the Court of Appeal of B.C (CABC) in 1993.  The Supreme Court of Canada, however, found that B.C. had no right to extinguish Indigenous rights to ancestral territories and that oral histories are equal to other types of evidence.  The court, clarifying the Calder case (1973), created a 3-part test for claiming this right: First, the FN must have occupied the territory before Declaration of Sovereignty (DOS); second, if present occupation is evidence of occupation before DOS, there must be continuity; and third, at DOS, occupation must have been exclusive.

 Gerald A. Beaudoin, “Delgamuukw case,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 8/18/2017.  Retrieved 9/8/2020,
 Brett Forester, "The Delgamuukw decision: Putting the Wet'suwet'en conflict in perspective," APTN News, 3/4/2020.  Retrieved 9/8/2020, 
The Delgamuukw decision: Putting the Wet’suwet’en conflict in perspective
Photo: Dig deeper, 7/12/2017. Permissive Use.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: