And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

From: "chris" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
via Sovernet-L
Vancouver Sun
September 16 1999
Native defiance in the woods pressures B.C. to take action

The Westbank chief storms out of a meeting with the forests minister as
another band threatens to cut trees in a provincial park.

Kim Pemberton and Gordon Hamilton Vancouver Sun

Two native Indian groups plan to begin logging immediately, one on Crown
land and the other in a provincial park, in acts of open defiance expected
to force the provincial government to take action on two fronts.

Logging by the Westbank Tribal Nation will begin in the Okanagan today after
Chief Ron Derrickson stormed out of a meeting with the forests minister
Wednesday, saying the provincial government is trying to provoke a
confrontation with aboriginals.

"Our crews are back logging," said Derrickson. "It's our land and we're
taking possession. We have no choice. We're going to occupy it, use it and
enjoy it."

And the Ulkatcho Indians of Anahim Lake say they intend to log mountain pine
beetle-infested timber in Tweedsmuir Park, claiming the government and the
forest industry are taking the wrong approach in an effort to battle the
beetle threat to forests in west-central B.C.

Environment Minister Joan Sawicki has ruled out logging in the park.
Environment ministry representative Alex Dabrowsky said it is hard to
respond to the native concerns until the ministry has heard something
concrete from them. But in the meantime, he said, parks staff are to contact
affected Indian bands on the issue.

Logging by the Westbank Tribal Nation in Hidden Creek had been temporarily
halted Wednesday in anticipation of the meeting between Derrickson, Forests
Minister Dave Zirnhelt and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
Phil Fontaine to try and reach a resolution in a dispute over harvesting
rights that has been simmering for months.

The Westbank Tribal Nation began logging Sept. 7 without provincial
approvals on land they claim is on their traditional territory. The ministry
of forests had issued a stop-work order last Friday and is currently in the
process of preparing to go to court for an injunction.

Zirnhelt said the provincial government is not trying to provoke a
confrontation and is in fact trying to "keep cool" about the situation.

He wouldn't say what options the ministry will take next to deal with
Westbank's decision to continue logging, but he noted action will be taken.

"We don't want to see confrontation. I intend to treat this with respect,
but we do have laws of this province we have to uphold," he said.

The issue was pushed to the forefront Wednesday when more than 100 native
leaders, in North Vancouver for the B.C. First Nations Summit this week,
attended the meeting with the minister to provide support to the Westbank
Tribal Nation. Earlier in the day, a resolution passed unanimously at the
summit stating the 51 B.C. First Nations of the summit fully support the
Westbank Nation in exercising what they say are their aboriginal and
common-law rights to harvest the forests within their traditional

They also resolved to support all First Nations who exercise what they say
are their aboriginal rights and title in B.C.

Okanagan Chief Dan Wilson, who also walked out of the meeting with Zirnhelt,
said he expects logging on their traditional territory will begin shortly
once the Okanagan Nation provides his band with a cutting permit.

"We have always bent over backwards to get along in the country and our
patience is becoming thin," said Wilson.

Both he and Derrickson said they left the meeting because they were insulted
by the tone of discussions.

"They're giving us the usual bulls- - - rhetoric. There's nothing new. He
[Zirnhelt] gave us a speech about the laws and then he started to make
insulting comments about Westbank bidding for timber. Why would we bid for
our own timber?" said Derrickson.

Asked about an earlier offer by the Penticton band to provide 50 people to
provide security to Westbank to ensure logging can take place, Derrickson
said he hoped he wouldn't have to request that help.

"I don't have much stomach for the rough stuff. But if you don't know how to
play the game, you better not get into it," he said.

Penticton Chief Stewart Phillip, who is also the president of the Union of
B.C. Indian Chiefs -- which opposes the current B.C. treaty process -- said
he is prepared to stand by the earlier offer to provide security whenever
Derrickson requests that help.

"In the event we're called out, God knows what will happen," said Phillip.
"I expect this situation will escalate very quickly."

Zirnhelt said he felt it was unrealistic for some at Wednesday's meeting to
expect that he would transfer timber resources to aboriginal groups with a
stroke of the pen. He noted there is a treaty process in place in B.C. and
there government is prepared to negotiate resource issues at that table.

Ulkatcho representative Allen Weselowski said the band intends to take its
own actions to stop the beetle infestation -- including logging in the
park -- if the government and forest industry do not address the issue of
where the beetles are coming from.

"Forget about boundary lines. Forget about working forest and non-working
forest. There is no such thing. The beetles don't recognize that. They don't
recognize a park boundary," said Weselowski.

"If you want to do it right, you need to probe the whole problem from inside
the park and outside the park."

The forest industry is focusing on protecting economic values on its own
forest tenures from the beetle infestation. The Indian bands who live in the
region say they are at risk of losing their forest, and the cultural values
it represents to them, to either logging or the beetle.

The band intends to take the action based on a long-standing lease agreement
they say gives native Indians access to the park.

The beetle epidemic could cost the province $300 million a year in lost
revenues if left unchecked.

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
                      Unenh onhwa' Awayaton
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