Canada and Whitecap Dakota Nation mark Royal Assent of legislation for Self-Government Treaty

News release

June 30, 2023 — (Ottawa, Ontario) — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Whitecap Dakota Nation

Today, Chief Darcy Bear of Whitecap Dakota Nation and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, announced that Bill C-51 received Royal Assent in Parliament on June 22, 2023, which will bring into effect A Self-Government Treaty Recognizing the Whitecap Dakota Nation / Wapaha Ska Dakota Oyate.

This Self-Government Treaty was developed in full partnership with Whitecap Dakota Nation and received broad support from its members. The Treaty recognizes Whitecap Dakota Nation as one of the "Aboriginal Peoples of Canada" and affirms their inherent right to self-government under section 35 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1982. Whitecap Dakota Nation's Treaty also recognizes Whitecap's law-making powers on its reserve lands. This includes law-making powers covering over 30 different areas, ranging from land and resource management to programs and services delivered to their members. This Self-Government Treaty will also establish new arrangements to modernize and renew Whitecap Dakota Nation's relationship with Canada and ensure Whitecap has increased control over its own affairs. This includes how the First Nation preserves, maintains and enhances their culture and builds on their many successes in community, business and economic development.

The Treaty marks an important step for Whitecap to move out from under the Indian Act and implement their inherent right to self-government and their vision of a thriving future for their community. It also establishes a stronger and more stable fiscal relationship between the Whitecap Dakota Nation and the Government of Canada. 

Canada is committed to working with Indigenous partners to restore Nation-to-Nation relationships, implement their inherent right to self-determination and support communities as they move out from under the Indian Act and transition to self-government.


"The passage of our bill, Bill C-51, is a long over-due and historic milestone for our Nation. From time immemorial, our Dakota ancestors had lived on these lands and contributed immensely to the building of this beautiful, multicultural nation that is Canada. This Governance Treaty is the first step towards recognizing our contributions to Canada and our rightful place today as one of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada - recognition that we should have never been denied. I thank our ancestors for their guidance; our members for their vision and direction; and I look forward to building a better future for generations of Whitecap Dakota members to come."

Chief Darcy Bear
Whitecap Dakota Nation

"This Treaty marks an important step to advance Whitecap Dakota Nation's inherent right to self-government. Canada has denied these rights for far too long and this recognition is long overdue and rightfully owed. We look forward to continuing to work together to build upon this new Treaty relationship, advance shared priorities and support Whitecap's vision of success for the benefit of their members today and for generations to come."

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • Self-government negotiations between the parties began in 2012 with the signing of a Framework Agreement and concluded in April 2023 with the Self-Government Treaty.

  • Following community approval, the Self-Government Treaty was signed by and announced by the parties in May 2023. 

  • The Treaty recognizes Whitecap's law-making powers on their reserve lands. This includes, for example, governance, land management, natural resources, business development, membership, cultural matters, language revitalization and preservation, education, financial management and accountability, health and social services.

  • Now that the federal legislation is passed, an effective date for the Self-Government Treaty will be agreed to by the parties and set by an Order in Council.

  • Whitecap Dakota Nation will pass their own laws to create and run their governance system. 

  • The parties have committed to building on their new Treaty relationship towards reconciliation of Whitecap Dakota's rights in Canada.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Aïssatou Diop
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller 
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

CIRNAC Media Relations: 

Maddie Fast 

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