Ahnii, Welcome to the Mattagami First Nation website. Here you will find information about our First Nation and its members. For our visitors, our website will provide an introduction to our community, our history and our people. The website also serves to inform our community members, both on and off reserve, on the activities and developments being led by our Chief and Council. Also our members can find information on the service departments that operate from our First Nation office and the people who are part of our administrative organization.
For the latest news on gatherings, events, programs and services as well as announcements from our Chief and Council click the regularly updated ‘What’s New‘ section. You can also view the latest items on the right hand yellow bar to see the most recent news items.
History of Mattagami First Nation
Mattagami First Nation is situated on ancient Native land that has long been 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. The First Nation is located on the northwest side of the beautiful Mattagami Lake. Translated, the Ojibway word ‘Mattagami’ means ‘Meeting Of The Waters’. Mattagami FN is located about 20 kilometres north-east of Gogama and is accessible by road five kilometres from Highway 144. The community is 80 kilometers from Timmins, Ontario.
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.
On July 7, 1906, Treaty #9 was signed by Mattagami members Andrew Luke, who signed with a simple ‘X’ and Joseph Shemeket, Thomas Chicken and James Nevue who wrote their names in syllabics. The name Naveau was at that time spelled differently from the way it is today in the community. Andrew Luke became the first recognized Chief of Mattagami First Nation under Treaty #9. 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. Today Treaty #9 is represented at the regional level by Wabun Tribal Council and Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN).
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 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. Elder Andrew Luke explained that several members of the community built log cabins to shelter their families. When the community was moved in the early 1950s there was the benefit of gaining 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.
In 1962, Mattagami FN 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 FN 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.
The community has progressed greatly over the years and in 1996 a new state of the art Community Complex was opened to house the First Nation’s administration offices and other services.
Mattagami First Nation is very progressive in terms of location and motivation towards tourism. 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. The First Nation is fortunate in that there are still many Elders in the community who know the history of the area and the traditional and cultural teachings.