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Squamish First Nation, British Columbia

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Natives told environmentalists and loggers fighting it out in the Elaho Valley to back off. Bill Williams, hereditary chief of the nation, was in the valley north of Vancouver Sept.3 with about 190 tribe members and supporters to raise a totem pole symbolizing Native interests in the area. "This is our traditional territory and we intend to exercise our right to have an influence on what goes on here. Nobody, including the environmental groups, has ever properly consulted with us from the beginning about our aboriginal rights in this area," he said. Environmentalists from across the continent have tried to prevent logging in the area. Two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were among a dozen people who hauled the 495-pound totem pole, carved by Aaron Nelson-Moody, up a steep hill through thick old growth and dense brush to its new perch. A logging company agreed not to build roads north of the area this summer while a memorandum of understanding is negotiated, Williams said. But Williams warned that young eco-activists who flocked to the valley should not count on preserving the Elaho as parkland, tribal or otherwise. The RCMP is trying to prevent a recurrence of last year's violence, which saw five loggers charged with assault.

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