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| Apr 8, 2022
Yukon land claims refer to the process of negotiating and settling Aboriginal land claim agreements in Yukon, Canada, between First Nations and the federal government. Based on historical occupation and use, First Nations claim fundamental rights to all countries. Unlike most other Canadian land claim agreements that apply only to status Indians, Yukon First Nations have emphasized that the agreements affect all persons they considered to be part of their nation, whether or not they are recognized as Status Indians under federal government rules. In 1973, the Yukon Indian Brotherhood and the Yukon Association of Non-Status Indians created the Council for Yukon Indians (CYI) to negotiate a land claims agreement. The two organizations and the council officially merged in 1980 as the Council for Yukon Indians. In 1995, CYI was renamed the Council of Yukon First Nations. Before Yukon First Nations regained self-government, the federal government regulated how they could use their lands. Prior to the agreement, Yukon First Nations claimed Yukon lands and resources as all under their ownership.  This was based on the traditional occupation and use of these lands. But all Yukon affairs were controlled by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
 INAC was responsible for establishing programs related to law, land reserves, health, social services and housing. Yukon First Nations bands implemented these programs but did not have the authority to change them.  The current process began in 1973 with the publication of Together Today For our Children Tomorrow by Chief Elijah Smith. Negotiations took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s and resulted in an agreement that was ultimately rejected. Comprehensive land claim agreements – or modern treaties – are agreements that trade undefined Indigenous rights for defined contractual rights and ownership of settlement land. After many years of negotiations and the hard work of many visionary leaders, the historic Final Framework Agreement (UFA) was signed in 1993. It provided the template for negotiating individual land claim agreements (called “Final Agreements”) with each Yukon First Nation. Negotiations resumed in the late 1980s and culminated in the Final Framework Agreement (MFA) in 1990. The UFA serves as a framework or model for individual agreements with each of the fourteen federally recognized Yukon First Nations. It was signed in 1993 and the four First Nations ratified their land rights agreements in 1995. To date (January 2016), eleven of the fourteen First Nations have signed and ratified an agreement.
Currently, White River First Nation, Liard First Nation and Ross River Dena Council are not negotiating. They remain Indian bands under the federal Indian Act.  The Final Framework Agreement is the framework within which 11 of yukon`s 14 First Nations have entered into a final claims settlement agreement. All provisions of the Final Framework Agreement are part of each First Nations Final Agreement. Other provisions of the Land Claims Agreement include the elimination of tax exemptions for Yukon First Nations (effective January 1, 2001), a restriction on the hunting rights of other Aboriginal peoples on the traditional territory of each First Nation, etc. Each land claims agreement is also accompanied by a self-government agreement that gives First Nations the right to legislate in a number of areas. These agreements give First Nations the power to control and direct their own affairs and describe a First Nation`s ability to assume responsibility for delivering programs or services to its citizens.  Ta`an Kwäch`än Council signed its final self-government agreements on January 13, 2002 and became a self-governing First Nation on April 1, 2002.
Similarly, the Gwich`in Tribal Council is entitled to 1,554 km2 of Yukon land and participation in resource management in a larger geographic footprint in Yukon, known as the Primary Use Area and Secondary Use Area. The Gwich`in land claim provides maps showing where these areas exist and where an exploration company would like to participate when considering working in these areas. These regions also overlap with the traditional territories of Yukon First Nations and, therefore, it is important to understand the various overlapping interests associated with northwest territory claim agreements and Yukon interests. For example, the wildlife management components of the Gwich`in Land Claim overlap with the responsibilities of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun Renewable Resources Council. As mentioned in the introduction, the eleven Yukon First Nation Final Agreements are all based on the Final Framework Agreement. In addition to the provisions of the UFA, each Final First Nation Agreement contains specific provisions that relate to each First Nation. the parties to the Final Framework Agreement want to be certain about their relationship with each other. The parties to the Final Framework Agreement want to improve the ability of Yukon First Nations and Yukon Indians to participate fully in all aspects of Yukon`s economy; The constitution of a particular First Nation determines the structure of government. In any case, the structures are different. The Constitution sets the direction of decision-making power.
In the Yukon, the majority of businesses were controlled by white employers. M. Smith said Indigenous people need to have the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities across the economic spectrum.  He notes that the Yukon Native Brotherhood had proposed several economic development projects. Finally, Smith made a comment on privatized research on progress in the Yukon. He explains that Yukon First Nations will conduct research, but they need to benefit their own communities, not their external communities. Smith points to the organizations needed to manage land, money and programs in Yukon.  He concluded: “The first five years of implementation will show whether this regulation will be able to do for our children what we intend to do.”  The Final Framework Agreement provided the framework for negotiating Yukon First Nations` Final and Self-Government Agreements.
The UFA has anticipated that a total compensation amount and a land equivalent equivalent equivalent equivalent to approximately 8.5% of Yukon`s land area should be returned to First Nations. Most of the country is directly owned by First Nation governments, although a number of existing reserves have also been conserved. He also called for the establishment of a number of bodies and committees to provide the government with community contributions, recommendations and decisions.  Smith submits that the education provided by the Canadian government is not relevant to the values and beliefs of Yukon Aborigines .. . .