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SEITC Appoints Lee Wagner as Assistant Executive Director

Lee Wagner, SEITC assistant executive director, by her family's crest on the Unuk River in Southeast Alaska
Lee by her family crest on the Unuk River

[Juneau, AK] — Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) is proud to announce Lee Wagner as its new Assistant Executive Director. Lee grew up in Metlakatla, Alaska and is a Tsimshian, Haida, and Łingít of the Niisk’iyaa Laxgibuu (wolf clan). She is a descendant of The Tèiḵwèidi Tlingit Clan of the Sàanyàa Ḵwáan, which has inhabited the Unuk River watershed for thousands of years. “My family crest sits at the base of the Unuk River. My roots are here — the waters of Southeast Alaska.”

Over the past decade, Lee has witnessed a significant decrease in ooligan and salmon runs on the Unuk, which she attributes to mining activities in the British Columbian headwaters. “Despite our deep ties with the river, we’ve been left out of decision-making processes. I want our Tribal and First Nations communities, both in Alaska and in Canada, to have the right to say what will happen on our lands.” Rapidly expanding mining development poses a threat to Southeast Alaska’s major salmon rivers, and the issue has attracted significant international attention. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is currently reviewing allegations that Canada's failure to regulate and prevent threats from large-scale mining operations in British Columbia may violate SEITC member Tribes' internationally recognized human rights. “The mission and vision of SEITC align perfectly with my commitment to safeguard Southeast Alaska’s wild salmon rivers,” said Lee. Her leadership comes at a crucial time, as a major gold-copper mining project in the headwaters of the Unuk, the Eskay Creek, is set to enter the EIS stage by year-end.

“Most of the population can’t see the big picture because it’s not in their backyards, but one day it will be. Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all connected,” Lee said.

Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission is a consortium of 15 Tribes upholding sovereign rights to steward traditional waterways, lands, and sacred sites for future generations.


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