01/25/2012 10:54 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan's Whitecap Dakota First Nation aims for self-governance

SASKATOON - A Saskatchewan First Nation is one step closer to establishing its own government.

Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation has signed an agreement with Ottawa to negotiate a framework for self-governance.

Bear says it follows up on the First Nation Land Management Act a few years ago, which allowed them to self-govern their own lands and resulted in the economic turnaround at Whitecap.

He calls Wednesday's signing another step on a long road to eliminating the Indian Act.

He says it will mean the reserve will eventually have the ability to make their own laws, manage their own resources, and establish their own constitution.

Bear says the next step will be to develop a work plan for implementation, which will be submitted to the federal government for approval in February.

He says they are the first band in Saskatchewan to take this step toward establishing self-government.

Bear hopes self-government will empower his community members to break the cycle of dependence created by the Indian Act, which he calls an "archaic piece of legislation" designed to keep First Nations members out of sight and out of mind.