United Transboundary Mining Work Group is a coalition of tribal governments working to protect ancestral lands and waters in Southeast Alaska/British Columbia. They have published the following map showing the location of the proposed KSM Mine and significant places to which a number of Tlingit clans trace their earliest migrations into Tlingit Aaní. Many of my friends and relatives trace their lineage back to this region and the clans named, including my own. Gunalchéesh to those who are doing this important work. Follow United Tribal Transboundary Mining Workgroup on Facebook for more information.
As Tlingit and Haida peoples, land and culture are inseparable components of who we are. Acknowledging historic connections between clans and geographic origins is essential to our cultural heritage and identity. This map is an illustrative snapshot (which is far from comprehensive) of our connection to the area that will be impacted by the proposed KSM Mine. Each proposed development site has similar stories that tell of our connection to these lands.
KSM owner SeaBridge Gold began drilling today.
One of the more exciting developments in the Pacific Northwest and Cascadia has been the resurgence of tribal canoe families and tribal canoe journeys. In the Tlingit tribe the landing of the canoes in Juneau, AK for our biennial Celebration has become my favorite part of our week long festivities, and it isn’t even an official part of the event. Dance groups are fun, but the physical, mental and spiritual conditioning demanded by a canoe journey are more in line with our traditional forms of tribalism.
Frank Hopper, a contributor for AI/AN ATS and Lingit Latseen really captures what this means with his piece covering the Seattle area protests against Arctic drilling.
Lummi Youth Learn the Bigger Picture: Canoes Join Kayactivists Protesting Arctic Drilling
by Frank Hopper
Mary Catherine Brewer/Facebook
Kayaks and canoes surrounded the Royal Dutch Shell oil rig on May 16 to protest arctic drilling.
Before there were roads, interstate highways, light rail systems and airports, there were… canoes. For thousands of years, Native people living on the Salish Sea, the area along the southwest coast of British Columbia and the northwest coast of the United States, used canoes not just for travel, but also as a profound form of cultural expression. Their creation and use were spiritual, teaching respect, camaraderie and selflessness. They used no fossil fuels and created no pollution. And they were powered by the most mysterious of engines, the human heart. So what could be more fitting to use when confronting a 307-foot tall giant capable of poisoning vast areas of ocean and shoreline?
In March I visited the Portland Art Museum along with some clan relatives and Aandeyein to view and handle Naanyaa.aayí at.óowu, Teikhweidi at.óowu and Raven (probaly Kiks.ádi) at.óowu dating back to the 1800’s. NAGPRA claims are in process or planned for many of these objects to return them to their ancerstral homes in Lingít Aaní. These items are our title to the land and proof of our legitimacy as sovereign Tlingit clans.
The process of assimilation was strong and deliberate during the 1800’s and 1900’s. Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people were forced to give up clan allegiances and our tribal way of life in order to receive the protection of the United States government. Our at.óowu was seperated from the people and placed in museums, symbolically burying our culture alive. Returning these objects to their respective clans is a reversal of this process and a revolutionary act.
Raven Staff. Probably Kiks.ádi, the clan from which my clan, the Teeyhíttaan, originates. — at Portland Art Museum.
Naanyaa.aayí club. — at Portland Art Museum.
Mother in Law Mask. Naanyaa.aayí. Notice the lip plate piercing. — at Portland Art Museum.
Naanyaa.aayi Chilkat Robe. Mimics the house screen in Chief Shakes Tribal House. See here: http://1.usa.gov/1LQT1Uo — at Portland Art Museum.
Teikhweidi from Yakutat. Chilkat Tunic. — at Portland Art Museum.
Mud Shark Hat. Naanyaa.aayí at.óowu. — at Portland Art Museum.
Today is Free Nations Day.
Free Nations Day is an opportunity to reclaim the idea that nations are voluntary groupings of free individuals, not externally imposed political borders or states. Both geographic localities and identities that transcend space are legitimate entities with the right to decide their own ways of life.
Courtesy of Tlingit Readers Inc.; produced by the late Andrew Hope III
Lingít Aaní, or the Tlingit Nation if you will, is a tribal nation captive by and split between two externally imposed states and their borders: the US and Canada. Hundreds, if not thousands of cultural groups, linguistic groups, tribes, and other nations join us in this common experience: captivity and division in our own lands. We are the captive nations of the world.
Lately Kurdistan, Catalonia and Scotland have been making the news in their struggle for freedom. Let the world also know that the Tlingit people are a nation, too, divided and surrounded by political borders that were not our making. Let the world know of the hundreds of tribes and tribal Nations in North America that suffer a similar fate. Happy Free Nations Day, and decolonize Lingít Aaní!