Alaska Indigenous groups try to influence Canadian mining project talks
Indigenous leaders in southeast Alaska hope to form a statewide alliance lobbying for protection of salmon
A group of 16 southeast Alaska tribes has hired a coordinator to express their concerns about a series of large Canadian mining projects that the tribes fear could hurt salmon habitat.
The group's Facebook page identifies the Tulsequah Chief Mine, Big Bull and New Polaris Mines located on the Tulsequah River that flows into the Taku River near Juneau, Alaska, as some of those mining projects.
The Juneau Empire reported Monday that Tis Peterman is the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group's first full-time employee.
Working out of Wrangell, she will draft a document outlining the tribes' positions that they plan to present to officials from Alaska and British Columbia when they hold meetings about the mining projects.
One of Peterman's goals is to develop relationships with tribes in Bristol Bay and on the Yukon River that oppose mining projects they believe could harm salmon habitat.
"We want to be sitting at the table when these issues arise," Peterman said. "Something has got to change."
The tribes deserve input on how watersheds will be treated when mines are built because their livelihood is linked to salmon, Peterman said.
"We have come a long way as an organization," said John Morris, Sr. of the Douglas Indian Association and the work group's secretary. "Our coordinator will help us to grow and keep looking out for our people."