Reno, Nevada – The Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) represented southeast Alaska at the Western Mining Action Network (WMAN) conference held October 13 through 16th . SEITC is a commission formed by 15 Tribes located in southeast Alaska seeking the right of consent for our member Tribes over almost a dozen operating and proposed mines in the British Columbia (BC) in the headwaters of the Stikine, Unuk and Taku rivers that nourish our communities through food and cultural practices. WMAN is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples from international frontline communities affected by mining.
The purpose of the conference was to share experiences, to develop a vision for a future with a truly just transition to renewable energy sources without the need for destructive and disruptive mining. The Conference was held in the traditional homelands of the Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone peoples.
SEITC’s vice-Chair Esther Ashton from the Wrangell Cooperative Association (Tribe) was elected to the WMAN Steering Committee.
The theme of the conference focused on the energy transition and the role of mining. A clear consequence of mining is the disproportionate effects to Indigenous communities adjacent or downstream to mining operations. The communities in southeast Alaska are under enormous threats from fast tracked mining proposals in BC. Some of the mines upstream from our Alaskan communities will be among the largest in the world.
Modern mining is inherently destructive to natural ecosystems including salmon populations already in decline due to climate change. The idea of fixing climate change by increasing mining in salmon-bearing watersheds would spell disaster for the tribes and communities in southeast Alaska that rely on healthy salmon populations and clean water for their continued survival.
In an excerpt from a declaration of the WMAN Indigenous Caucus released at the conference: “We continue to affirm, with one voice, that it is a critical time for all humanity to address centuries of extraction, predation, pollution, colonialism, and genocide. It is time to assume the responsibilities towards our future generations. It is time to choose life. We continue to fight for the right to say NO. We cannot mine our way out of climate change if so-called renewables are based on mining.”
SEITC is fighting for the right to free, prior and informed consent within the traditional territories that straddle the border between Alaska and BC. It is within these territories that most of these mines are located. It is the traditional borders that must be respected according to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which Canada ratified on June 21, 2021 and immediately came into force.
Contact: Guy Archibald, Executive Director of SEITC at garch570@gmail,com. or Rob Sanderson Jr., Chair of SEITC at firstname.lastname@example.org