Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson is the president of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the largest sovereign tribe in Alaska, representing more than 37,000 Tlingit and Haida citizens worldwide.
The transboundary T’aakū (Taku), Shtax’héen (Stikine) and Joonáx (Unuk) rivers have provided for Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. These rivers are economic powerhouses for Southeast Alaska’s coastal communities.
Today, however, the headwaters of these sacred rivers are the site of a modern-day gold rush with investors aiming to develop poorly regulated gold mines and failure-prone toxic mine waste dams in British Columbia (B.C.).
On the heels of the semi-annual meetings between the U.S. and Canada, it is imperative that I elevate this issue on behalf of our communities and the salmon rivers that have sustained our people since time immemorial.
In September, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden expressing deep concern the U.S. could be harming our region’s largest salmon and hooligan-producing rivers by funding Canadian mining. Her letter came after President Biden announced the U.S. plans to fund Canadian “critical minerals” mines in pursuit of energy independence from China and supply chain resilience.