Thursday, January 31, 2008

Protecting Prince Rupert Harbour archeology unifies local First Nations

As we recounted here on Podunk earlier this week, the Allied Tribes of Coast Tsimshian recently concluded a three day seminar to examine how they wish to approach the protection of First Nation burial sites that dot the Prince Rupert Harbour shoreline.

Wednesday's Daily News provided another look at the issue, focusing on the archeological aspect of the discussions.

The Coast Tsimshian work with 'one heart' on project
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Page one

Representatives of Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams came together last week to commit to working collectively and with other levels of government to protect the archeological sites in the Prince Rupert Harbour.

Known collectively, as the Coast Tsimshian, the two communities hosted a three-day seminar on Prince Rupert Harbour Archaeological Management Planning last week.

It was moderated by the Honourable Iona Campagnolo, British Columbia's former Lieutenant-Governor and attended by several archeologists.

The 30 or so sites around the Prince Rupert harbour area represent 10,000 years of history and thousands of human remains and they are threatened by development, Campagnolo said.
She said that by having the two communities reach an understand to work together, as well as reach out to other levels of government will give them a greater opportunity to protect their treasures.

"Our world is moving at an ever accelerating pace, which gives us a real sense of urgency," she said.

"The Coast Tsimshian are aware that their's is one of the great histories of North America and the world and must be protected as such."

James Bryant, cultural liaison for Lax Kw'allaams, described the decision to work together as the two communities "being of one heart".

It means the leaders of Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla will work together to address their interests and concerns regarding archaeology and development, particularly around the Prince Rupert Harbour portion of the Coast Tsimshian territory.

"It's imperative that we work together as we move forward on these very important issues," said Bryant.

"The Allied Tribes of the Coast Tsimshian also believe that all communication on these urgent issues must be transparent if we are to come to a successful conclusion."

"The place Canadians know as the city of Prince Rupert has been our home for at least 10,000 years," said Chief Clarence Nelson.

"Archaeologists have confirmed that burial sites and the unique artifacts of the ancestors of the Allied Tribes exist in and around Prince Rupert.

"It is our responsibility to protect these archaeological treasures."

Nelson said the Adaawk (oral histories) are confirmed in scientific records.

"We know our culture and our connection to the land is our legacy. It is our world treasure."
Bryant and Nelson say the Allied Tribes spent three days discussing their communities' place in the management of archaeological resources within the Coast Tsimshian territory.

"We agree that we have both ancient and contemporary interests in the developments taking place in Prince Rupert and the surrounding area," said Nelson.

Bryant added that they are prepared to assume their unique role with the other orders of government to move forward in a respectful partnership.

"One of the first orders of business will be the commemoration of our ancestors whose bones lay under the tarmac at Fairview Terminal. Taking one step at a time, we hope that a new level of mutual trust will be built between all participants as we address the larger issues within our territories."

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