Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission
The Alaska/British Columbia Transboundary Bilateral Working Group held a public meeting to share information on progress under the Memorandum of Understanding, the results of the recently completed transboundary monitoring project, and information on the Tulsequah Chief Mine. British Columbia and Alaska signed the Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 and the Statement of Cooperation in 2016.
Alaska and British Columbia held the joint meeting via Zoom with over 100 people attending. “We wonder why this is the first public meeting by Alaska/British Columbia since the Walker-Mallott Administration,” Rob Sanderson, Jr, Chair, Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC). “Out-of-control British Columbia mining needs more attention, especially for and with tribes and First Nations.”
“I would hope that Alaska Citizens and British Columbians would demand better of their local and federal governments,” echoed Jennifer Hanlon, Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission Vice Chair, “Alaska kept deferring to British Columbia to field questions about Tribal involvement.”
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation partners with British Columbia in the new Tulsequah Chief Mine Clean Up Plan but were not on the meeting Agenda. In the transboundary water quality monitoring report, Tribal participation seems problematic, i.e., tribes are mentioned for water quality sampling and data gathering yet none of their data is included in the report.
“We would like to know how Alaska and British Columbia will partner with tribes? If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it’s all settled — Alaska is open for business and it’s Mining Month in British Columbia,” Frederick Olsen, Jr, Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission Executive Director, “Instead of government protections, we get cheerleading for industry.”
The presentations included overviews of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Statement of Cooperation, Transboundary Water Qualtiy Monitoring Reports, and the Tulsequah Chief Mine Closure and Reclamation Plan.
“It was mentioned during the presentation that they call it the “Golden Triangle” for a reason,” Frederick Olsen, Jr, Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission Executive Director. “We know the area as “The Sacred Headwaters” for a reason as well. Our rivers have rights, too.”