Aboriginal peoples, both Indian and Inuit, responded to the proposal for the massive James Bay hydroelectric project with protests that the impact upon their lands and way of life would be enormous. Negotiations between the Quebec government and the Cree and Inuit people who would be affected by the project resulted in the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, a type of treaty for the twentieth century. The agreement divided the land into three categories, the largest of which was to be turned over to the province, with the caveat that consideration would be given to the Native population for continuing their traditional activities and ways. The second land category consisted of 24,000 square miles maintained by the Cree upon which they had exclusive hunting and fishing rights. The last category was land under exclusive Native ownership around their communities, an area amounting to some 2,140 square miles. In addition, a cash settlement of $232.5 million would be distributed over the next 21 years to encourage economic development of the area. These measures allowed the Native peoples to maintain control of their future while easing the impact of the flooding of thousands of miles of land from the hydroelectric dams.

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Chinook Multimedia

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