Gas & Petroleum Development Banned In Sacred Waters Of British Columbia

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The British Columbia government has stopped natural gas and petroleum development in the Klappan region of northwest British Columbia. Shell Oil was the chief corporation interested in exploring natural resources there for fossil-fuel development.

tahltan.jpgThe region is wild land containing the Stikine, Nass, and Skeena rivers, which are used by salmon for their spawning and migrations. Because of its beauty and the presence of indigenous people, the Klappan is also called the Sacred Waters. It is also the area where the rivers listed above join.

The Tahltan Nation website published remarks about the historical decision. “The  Klappan  is  one  of  the  most  sacred  and  important  areas for our people. It is a place of tremendous cultural, spiritual, historic and social importance – our people do not want to see it developed, and we look forward to working with British Columbia on  achieving  that  goal,” said Annita McPhee, President of the Tahltan Central Council. (Tahltan Nation)

The Tahltan culture says the Sacred Waters are where their community began thousands of years ago. For the last seven years, some of their elders have been observing the activities of Shell Canada as their workers tried to implement a coalbed methane mining project. Nonviolent blockades and protests slowed the Shell initiative, but for some period it continued — until a final resolution by the BC government to ban such projects permanently.

The main Tahltan village is at Telegraph Creek and this center is also considered their tribal headquarters. In previous decades, when trading was an important part of their economy, most Tahltans visted Telegraph Creek at least once a year.

Prior to the arrival of fur traders, the Tahltan had lived in the area unimpeded for millennia. Over seventy percent of the original population was wiped out by an epidemic of smallpox introduced by Europeans and the ensuing starvation.

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Jake Richardson

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