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 original community was located in a small area on the shore of Mattagami Lake. Elder Andrew Luke explained that several members of the community built log cabins to shelter their families. The community was moved in the early 1950s to gain 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.
On July 7, 1906, Mattagami members Andrew Luke, who signed with a simple ‘X’ and Joseph Shemeket, Thomas Chicken and James Nevue who wrote their names in syllabics signed the treaty in Mattagami. The name Naveau was at that time spelled differently from the way it is today in the community. 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.
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 NationContact Information
P.O. Box 99, Gogama, Ontario P0M 1W0
Tel: (705) 894-2072
Fax: (705) 894-2887