Resolution 

Title: Ensuring a prompt and full closure and cleanup of the Tulsequah Chief Mine

WHEREAS, The Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC) is a consortium of  15 sovereign Tribal nations located in Southeast Alaska. SEITC seeks to protect the vital and sacred  rivers that sustain our communities and culture. Member Tribal governments are the Chilkat Indian  Village, Craig Tribal Association, Douglas Indian Association, Hydaburg Cooperative Association,  Ketchikan Indian Community, Klawock Cooperative Association, Metlakatla Indian Community,  Organized Village of Kake, Organized Village of Kasaan, Organized Village of Saxman, Petersburg  Indian Association, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Wrangell Cooperative Association, Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, and Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; and

 

WHEREAS, salmon and other traditional foods are the foundation of our culture. The transboundary  Taku, Stikine and Unuk rivers have nourished our tribal communities since time immemorial; and 

WHEREAS, healthy wild salmon populations are vital to our community health, cultural existence, and sovereignty; and

 

WHEREAS, The Taku River is usually Southeast Alaska’s top salmon producer and is of tremendous  and unique ecological, customary and traditional use ("subsistence"), cultural and recreational value.  The Taku River is usually Southeast Alaska’s largest overall salmon producer, with Southeast’s largest run of coho and king salmon; and

 

WHEREAS, The Tulsequah Chief Mine has been discharging toxic acidic wastewater into the Taku watershed since it was abandoned in 1957. It has been 7 years since B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett  promised to clean up the mine site. The ongoing pollution is in violation of the Canadian Fisheries Act,  B.C. mine permits and water quality standards, and an agreement with the Taku River Tlingit First  Nation. Yet, the pollution continues; and

 

WHEREAS, The Taku is the traditional territory of Tlingit people on both sides of the border. The  Douglas Indian Association is the federally recognized tribe in Alaska and the Taku River Tlingit First  Nation is based in Atlin, B.C. Both have called for the cleanup and closure of the Tulsequah Chief Mine; and

 

WHEREAS, after decades of international controversy and two failed attempts to re-open this mine that  have resulted in bankruptcies, it is clear the Tulsequah Chief Mine is not a viable mine; and

 

WHEREAS, Chieftain Metals, the current owner of the Tulsequah Chief Mine, is in a court-ordered  bankruptcy receivership process that is scheduled to end this August. There is concern that a creditor of  Chieftain Metals could petition the court to extend the receivership process, which could hinder cleanup  efforts; and

WHEREAS, Alaska legislators, governors, members of congress, community leaders, fishing and  tourism groups, businesses and other Alaskans have made cleanup of the Tulsequah Chief Mine a main goal in  discussions with B.C. Provincial and Canadian federal officials for many years. This concerted pressure is finally showing results; and 

WHEREAS, Continued pressure and attention from Alaska will be critical to ensuring B.C. opposes any extension of the receivership process and moves aggressively to take over the mine, clean it up and close it down; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SEITC strongly urges the State of Alaska and United States federal government to make it clear to the B.C. and Canadian federal governments that ending the  receivership in August and ensuring a prompt and full cleanup and closure of the mine is a priority; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, regardless of the status of the receivership, B.C. should be moving aggressively to do everything possible to take over the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine, close it down, and permanently stop the acid mine drainage.  

ADOPTED July 5, 2022 

Robert Sanderson Jr. 

President and Chair 

Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission 

Attested and Witnessed

Guy Archibald, Executive Director