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Manitoba from the Air
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Meanders on the Assiniboine River, Near the Junction with Birdtail Creek, 1994 Photo

This photo taken 38 years after that in figure 19.2 is at a larger scale and covers only the southern part of that photo. The “imminent cut off” at 8 is now completely abandoned, and, as its dark tone indicates, water no longer flows through it. Also, the “imminent cut off” at 9 has been abandoned, but historical records reveal that it was artificially cut off to prevent erosion of the Canadian National Railway line 14. Two other cut offs can be seen in the south (15 and 16) as well as an abandoned river segment 17. It seems likely that the main channel of the Assiniboine River will reoccupy the abandoned channel 13 in the near future. The DLS map of township 15, range 27 WI surveyed in 1881 shows that the cut off 16 was part of the main channel at that date.

Changes in river position in this area are of more than academic interest because the western boundary of the Birdtail Sioux First Nation is defined by the course of the Assiniboine River. Starting at the northwest corner of section 19, township 15, range 27WI (just off the northern edge of figure 19.3) the boundary runs

South fifteen chains and seventy five links, more or less, along the western boundary of said section 19 to its intersection with the left bank of the Assiniboine River; hence south easterly along the said bank of the said river to its intersection with the southern boundary of section four in said township.[i]

This intersection is located about a mile east of the eastern edge of the photo in figure 19.3.

A dashed line on the overlay marks the boundary. If the above wording is retained today and the east bank of the main course of the river defines the boundary, the size and shape of the First Nation will have changed. In the area of one cut off 8 the First Nation has gained some land but has lost more than it gained. However, the effect of the cut offs (9 and 16) will have been to add land to the First Nation (figure 19.4). Further complications will arise if the Assiniboine reoccupies the cut off 13, a potential increase of the size of the First Nation. At the time of writing a legal solution to the problem of the First Nation’s western boundary is still being sought.


[i] Descriptions and Plans of Certain Indian Reserves in the Province of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. Ottawa: Privy Council of Canada, 1889, 8.

Figure 19.3

Meanders on the Assiniboine River, Near the Junction with Birdtail Creek, 1994 Photo