The indigenous-led initiative would defend critical salmon habitat from saltwater to headwaters
Lummi Nation, WA, June 9, 2023. Leaders from hundreds of Alaska Tribes and First Nations from British Columbia came together at the 4th Annual Indigenous Leaders Summit held in Lummi Nation, hosted by Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) to resolve issues threatening salmon, territories, and ways of life. “Our people no longer have salmon running in our streams. Salmon only live in our stories. I wanted to come here to share that with the leaders; to show them where everyone is heading if we don’t help each other,” said the summit’s youth representative Violet Gatensby from Carcross, Yukon. On both sides of the US-Canada border, pacific salmon face habitat loss and degradation of critical waterways. Joining forces, First Nations and Tribes declared state of emergency for salmon and talks began of strong allegiance in the form of an international indigenous organization. The initiative would focus on defending critical salmon habitat from saltwater to the headwaters of major salmon-producing rivers. “Western science brought us into this mess in the first place. To address this, we have the moral authority to provide leadership, we are the ones to lead,” stated Frank Brown, Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation. “We can no longer keep holding yearly meetings without actively working to resolve these issues in between. None of us think salmon has a moment to spare,” Christie Jamieson, SEITC Assistant Executive Director said. SEITC is a consortium of 15 Tsimshian, Tlingit and Haida Nations upholding their sovereign rights to steward traditional lands, waterways, and sacred sites. SEITC is seeking recognition as Indigenous peoples of Canada for its member Tribes to be able to steward the vital transboundary salmon rivers, now subject to major mining development occurring in British Columbian headwaters.