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Pine beetles hurting Indian way of life in B.C.

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A mountain pine beetle infestation in British Columbia is changing the lives of rural Indians.

Chief Leonard Thomas of the Nak'azdli (nah-KAZ'-lee) Band near Fort St. James is worried about job losses and keeping communities together.

Thomas also said the cultural impact of the beetle has been huge. Tribal elders cite the fire threat, loss of wildlife on which they rely for food and vanishing stands of wild berries and medicinal plants.

A University of Northern British geography professor, Greg Halseth, said Native culture could be badly damaged by accelerated harvesting of trees killed by beetles or by major fires.

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He said culturally important trees and ancient trails that marked territories and identified clans could be lost as the forest is lost.

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