Zhi Nänka Ję Sothän Huh – Northern Tutchone
Our Land is Our Life
Throughout this land, and well beyond its borders. Before newcomers arrived, no boundaries separated us from other northern peoples.
We still cherish those close ties with relatives in Alaska, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. Together, we are working to strengthen our communities after many difficult years of disruptions caused by colonization.
In recent decades serious environmental issues have threatened our lands. We’ve experienced polluted waters and forests from mining, depletion of fish from hydro dams, and over-hunting after highway development. Above all, climate change is alarming as we witness profound, rapid changes in animal behaviours, habits and landforms.
We are not opposed to using our resources to provide opportunities for economic benefits. Development should be sustainable and socially responsible. It should not disrupt our ability to continue harvesting and practising our cultures.
Today we unite with our neighbours in campaigns for the protection of wildlife and fragile northern ecosystems. We are deeply concerned about plans to develop the protected ANWR lands of Alaska, where every year the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate across northern Yukon to give birth to new calves. Likewise, we advocate for protection of the Peel Watershed, one of the last pristine watersheds in the world. Our representatives sit on the Yukon River International Salmon Treaty committees to migrate threats to salmon species travelling along our rivers.
For all these issues and many more we are mindful that our future, and that of the world, depends on wise decisions regarding the use of resources. As Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Elder Percy Henry reminds us: “Look after the land and it will look after you”.