Mattagami First Nation is home to the Ojibway and OjiCree people from the Mattagami River and Mattagami Lake areas and as far as the Moose River head waters on the James Bay coast. It is located about 20 kilometres north-east of Gogama and is accessible by road five kilometres from Highway 144.
Official Name: Mattagami First Nation
Address: P.O. Box 99, Gogama, Ontario P0M 1W0
Phone: (705) 894-2072
Fax: (705) 894-2887
Official Website: https://mattagami.com/
Traditional Name: Translated, the Ojibway word ‘Mattagami’ means ‘Meeting Of The Waters.’
Tribal Affiliation: Ojibway and OjiCree
Governance: Wabun Tribal Council
Political Organizations: Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Treaties: Treaty #9 – The James Bay Treaty
Before the arrival of Europeans, the local Ojibway and Oji-Cree lived a nomadic life on the land where they survived through hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.
The original community was located in a small area on the shore of Mattagami Lake. Elder Andrew Luke explained that several members of the community built log cabins to shelter their families.
In 1952, an additional 200 acres of land were added to Mattagami First Nation for the purpose of constructing a new town site. The original community was located in a small area on a different area of Mattagami Lake.
The community was moved in the early 1950s to gain better access to the developing road system. New homes were constructed on the second site.
“The old community was not very big. People built their own homes and we even had our own school building which was constructed by local members. Several years later most of these buildings were salvaged when we left and used in the construction of a community hall for our people in the new location of Mattagami First Nation,” said Elder Luke.
On July 7, 1906, Mattagami members Andrew Luke, who signed with a simple ‘X’ and Joseph Shemeket, Thomas Chicken and James Nevue who wrote their names in syllabics signed the treaty in Mattagami. The name Naveau was at that time spelled differently from the way it is today.
Commissioners Duncan Campbell Scott, Samuel Stewart and Daniel George MacMartin also signed the document. The event was witnessed by Joseph Miller, Pelham Edgar, A.M.C. Banting and Kenneth Ross.
The creation of the Treaty #9 document presented the First Nation people living in the Mattagami Lake area with an official land base as part of the treaty agreement. Two decades later in 1921, a power company built a dam on the Mattagami River which flooded parts of the First Nation’s land base.
In 1962, Mattagami First Nation made history by electing the first all women Chief and Council for their community. Chief Helen Naveau and Councillors Elizabeth Naveau and Irene Naveau served their community for a two year term.
Helen Naveau was a prominent leader in her community and was elected again as Chief in 1968 and 1970. In all, she served as an elected community leader for eight terms.
As a historical note, her father Henry Kitchibra was part of an infantry unit that fought at Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
Later developments of Treaty #9 for Mattagami First Nation took place during the 1970s, when Norman Naveau took an active role in representing his people.
Naveau was appointed by several Chiefs from nearby First Nations to become vice president of what was known then as the Wabun area of Treaty #9, which represented several First Nations in the eastern part of the province and south of the James Bay coast.
The Wabun area of Treaty #9 was one of several areas of representation for different First Nations known as Project Development Areas (PDAs), now known as Tribal Councils. Elder Naveau represented this area for five years.
There are still many Elders in the community who know the history of the area and the traditional and cultural teachings.
There are many pristine lakes and waterways, natural forest areas and services that draw tourists interested in fishing, hunting, ecotourism and snowmobile and off road adventure sports.
Newspaper: Mattagami First Nation Drum Magazine
People of Note:
Several major events take place in Mattagami First Nation during the year.
Mattagami First Nations Walleye Tournament
Mattagami First Nation members also help to organize the Mattagami First Nations Live Release Walleye Tournament. The annual event is part of the Northern Ontario Walleye Trail (NOWT) series that also feature walleye tournament events in Dubreuilville, Geraldton, Sault Ste Marie, Kapuskasing, Timmins and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation.
The annual event takes place every year in June in Gogama, on the shores of Mattagami Lake.
Mattagami First Nation Pow Wow
The annual Mattagami First Nation Pow Wow is held every year in the community in the summer, usually in August.
The Annual Beaverfest is held in the spring, usually in late April or early May. It is hosted in Mattagami First Nation along with the Gogama & Area Fur Harvester’s Council. This is a major annual event for the community.
The one day event was started in 1991 by Elder Leonard Naveau, his partner Linda Penasse and their friends Evelyn Boissoneau and Willard Harnack as a way to educate young people in Mattagami First Nation, Gogama and the surrounding area about trapping and to promote this traditional activity.
Beaverfest primarily gives local First Nation trappers and members of the Gogama Fur Council an opportunity to demonstrate and educate the public and youth on the history and culture of animal trapping.
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