The Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated announced it will sign the devolution agreement in principle in Yellowknife today.
Norman Yakeleya, the member of the legislative assembly for the Sahtu region, said it’s a way for the Sahtu people to ensure their interests are represented.
"The way I look at it, it’s always better to negotiate your own fate than to have others do it for you, so we’re in the game, we’re now owning up to 100 per cent of our responsibility of our destiny," said Yakeleya.
The Sahtu is the first Dene government to sign on to the deal.
Yakeleya said the road to devolution is needed, but it won’t be easy.
"Sometimes it’s not very pleasant, sometimes it’s difficult and sometimes it means that we want to quit. However, our leaders in the past were not quitters and we today choose not to be quitters."
There will be a ceremony this afternoon at the legislative assembly in Yellowknife.
Divisive issue among N.W.T. aboriginal leaders
The decision comes more than a year after the Government of the Northwest Territories signed the agreement in principle (AIP) with the federal government, along with two aboriginal groups in the territory – the Northwest Territory Métis Nation and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
The AIP has been a divisive issue in the territory. At the signing in January 2011, about 50 of the 250 people gathered for the signing walked out, with one woman shouting "you're selling out our territory." Others staged protests outside. The Gwich'in Tribal Council has also filed a lawsuit, saying the federal and territorial governments did not do adequate consultation before signing.
A devolution agreement would give the N.W.T. more province-like powers and control over land and resources.