The first thing passing boaters will notice is the white nylon bulk sample bags, split open and shredded, lying along what was a pristine shore of Great Slave Lake.

Behind them is everything that was used for an exploration camp: two pickup trucks, heavy equipment, a complete camp kitchen, cabins, snowmobiles, tools and parts.

Snowfield Developments was exploring for diamonds about 50 kilometres southeast of Dettah — or about an hour and 15 minutes from the community by boat.

The company went broke and simply abandoned its camp near Drybones Bay.

"I was just wondering why people do this to our land,” said the chief of Dettah in the Northwest Territories as he toured the mess on Friday.  

Snowfield camp kitchen

Vancouver-based Snowfield Developments walked away from its diamond exploration camp when it ran out of money a few years ago. (Pat Kane photo)

"It's getting to the point where I don't want to support any of the mining going on now, seeing the devastation they leave behind. It's kind of sad for my people. They expect more than this."

Fearful of superboard

Chief Eddie Sangris says this is an example of why his people need more say — not less — in resource development on their traditional lands.

"I cannot imagine what's going to happen if they create a superboard,” he said, referring to the federal government's plan to combine the current regional land and water boards into one giant board as part of devolution. 

“It's just mind-boggling to me to see those guys approving anything and everything that comes their way and not worrying about the land and environment and the people that depend on the land."

The Yellowknives Dene are opposed to development in the Drybones Bay Area.

Its a favoured hunting ground and fishing area and many of their ancestors are buried there.

Some of the gravesites were burned six years ago by a forest fire that was accidentally started by a worker at the Snowfield camp.

Taxpayers on the hook

Taxpayers will likely have to pay for the cleanup for the Snowfields site.

Snowfield posted a security deposit of $43,000 when it received its initial exploration permit for the site in 2011.

The company later applied to do more advanced exploration. The security deposit was to increase to $308,000, but Snowfield abandoned the review process and did some of the advance work anyway.

The cleanup is estimated to cost more than $200,000.