Research shows that adhesions to the numbered treaties were of two types: “internal” and “external.” In an internal adhesion, a band living within the previously ceded area agreed to the terms of the treaty, and no new transfer of land was involved. In an external adhesion, a band living outside the previously ceded area agreed to the terms of the treaty, thus adding a previously unceded piece of territory to the treaty area.
This distinction is essential to understanding the long-running Lubicon Lake dispute. From the federal government's point of view, all of northern Alberta was ceded in Treaty Eight; so the Lubicons, who live within this area, are entitled to make only an internal adhesion. In contrast, the Lubicons claim to live on unceded land and thus demand to make an external adhesion. Their claim to possess unextinguished aboriginal title to a specific tract of land is used to justify demands for compensation that would not be paid in the case of an internal adhesion.