What if …..

Tahltan declaration of 1910 could have changed events of today

THE Klabona Keepers, the group of Tahltan joined with others in mounting two recent blockades of the road into the Red Chris mine, often cites a 1910 declaration by their predecessors when it comes to ownership and control of their territory.

“We claim the sovereign right to all the country of our tribe – this country of ours which we have held intact from the encroachments of other tribes, from time immemorial, at the cost of our own blood,” reads one portion of that Oct. 18, 1910 declaration.

As emphatic as that is, the Tahltan leaders of that day also sketched out a pathway toward the future.

In return for one or more large portions of land to be regarded as absolute Tahltan territory, the leaders were willing to relinquish the rest to the B.C. government for “adequate compensation” in the call for a treaty.

“…. [I]t will be better for ourselves,, also better for the governments and all concerned, if these treaties are made with us at a very early date, so all friction and misunderstanding between us and the whites may be avoided ….” the declaration continues.

The history of interaction between peoples is populated by errors, stubbornness and downright ignorance.

So it’s left mostly to imagine what might have been the case today if the federal and provincial governments of 1910 had listened – and acted – in accordance with the Tahltan wishes.

Editorial, The Terrace Standard, Oct. 22, 2014