SOUTHEAST TRIBES CEMENT RELATIONSHIPS OVER MINING IN THEIR SHARED WATERSHEDS
News Release by Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission - 9/13/22
The Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) sponsored representatives of Indigenous organizations from British Columbia to meet with us and other Tribes from the region at the annual Sharing Our Knowledge (Wooshteen kanaxtulaneegi’ Haa At Wusko’ou) conference of Tlingit-Haida-Tsimshian Tribes and Clans held in Wrangell, Alaska (Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan) September 8th through the 11th . The event was hosted by the Wrangell Cooperative Association (WCA), one of SEITC’s member Tribes.
The Conference provided an opportunity for Indigenous people to support and encourage each other through constructive and heart-felt conversations about topics relevant to the region's indigenous people, their history and future in Southeast Alaska and their territories spanning the border with British Columbia. The cultural connections were cemented through performances, exhibitions and ceremonies. The conference brought together over 550 people including presenters, attendees, and participants.
SEITC’s guests from British Columbia were Kirby Muldoe, (Hup Wil Lax A), of Tsimshian and Gitxsan descent from New Hazelton BC and Guujaaw (Gidansda Giindajin Haawasti Guujaaw) heredity leader from of Haida Gwaii. SEITC with Hup Wil Lax A and Guujaaw held a two-and-a-half-hour conversation at the Chief Shakes Clan house to close the first evening of the conference. SEITC’s Assistant Executive Director Christie Jamieson and Events Coordinator Elizabeth Peterson, both descendants of the last Tlingit Chief Shakes, introduced the talk. The focus was on rebuilding relationships between the headwater First Nations and the downstream Alaska Tribes sharing the Stikine River. Many of the 125 attendees also participated by speaking about personal efforts to exercise the right to self-determination in both lifestyle and through actions.
On the second day, SEITC’s Executive Director Guy Archibald presented a talk about protecting food security and the SEITC’s upcoming Wrangell Seafood Consumption Survey. Collecting this data is critical to support setting water quality criteria stringent enough to protect the health of Tribal citizens that eat a lot of seafood and also to protect the continued abundance of these food sources for future generations. A video of this presentation can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia-am3GJfdo.
SEITC sponsored a jet boat trip up the Shtax'héen (Stikine) River to Chief Shakes Glacier with sixteen First Nations, WCA and SEITC members where stories and songs were shared. In addition, SEITC provided an informational table at the conference highlighting the efforts of SEITC to gain the rights of free, prior and informed consent for the southeast Alaska Tribes in 2 British Columbia over the proposed and operating mines within the shared watersheds of our vital transboundary rivers.
Throughout the conference, SEITC met with many other Tribes and First Nations including the Taku River Tlingit First Nations Land Guardian program and a delegation representing the Teslin Tlingit Council from the Yukon in Canada, located in Teslin (Desleen).
On the final day of the conference, SEITC showed the film “When the Salmon Spoke”, highlighting the rivers and connection between salmon and the people as well as the threats posed by the transboundary mines.
As an outcome of the meetings, SEITC has been invited to travel to BC and meet with other First Nation and Clan leaders. All of which will be invited to SEITC’s fourth Indigenous Leaders Summit to be held this spring