The signing of the Dogrib Treaty 11 framework agreement with the federal government in late August (1996) was a first in the Northwest Territories.
The agreement is historical because self-government will be negotiated at the same time as a land claim.
Scott Serson, deputy minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development said "modernizing" the 75-year-old treaty will be similar to building a home.
"Treaty 11 laid the foundation. The land claim raises the walls and self-government provides the roof. Each part unique," Serson told the assembly, "each part essential."
The agreement clears the way for an agreement-in-principle between Ottawa, the territorial government and Dogrib Nation to be signed by next August.
Grand Chief Joe Rabesca, who attended the signing on the morning of his father's death said this marks "a very important step for the Dogrib people.
"We've got a long way to go, but I'm committed to finish this."
Premier Don Morin, who also attended the signing, took the opportunity to call on the federal government to ensure the Dogrib claim is a priority.
With 85 claim tables open across the country and because of the "major mineral development in the (Dogrib) region", there should be no reason for delaying negotiations, said Morin.
And because downsizing the territorial government is now a reality, the Dogrib Nation can play a lead role helping other first nations acquire self-government, he added.
The land claim covers the commnities of Rae, Snare Lakes, Rae Lakes and Lac La Martre.
Tlicho Framework Agreement Signed