Friday, February 16, 2007

Kwakiutl: “We are going to start fighting”

Kwakiutl: “We are going to start fighting” By Zoe Blunt

“Our world is falling apart,” Basil Ambers, a hereditary chief of the Kwakiutl First Nation, warned the crowd. “Everything we hold dear is gradually eroding away.” “We are putting you on notice that we are going to start fighting for those things.”

The Kwakiutl and their supporters gathered in Victoria, BC on Monday February 12 to protest a government-approved land transfer. The deal between Western Forest Products and the province would take private land out of three Tree Farm Licenses on northern Vancouver Island, including over 1400 hectares claimed by the Kwakiutl. Almost a hundred people, most of them native, filed into the traditional longhouse outside the BC Museum. After building a fire in the longhouse, two dozen people in tribal regalia lined up to beat drums, dance and sing traditional songs. The drummers led the crowd to the steps of the Legislature, where the Kwakiutl held a press conference. It was a slow walk, the sun was mild and the breeze was balmy. But Andrews looked grim as he addressed the crowd: “It seems like we always have to get together because of things the white folks have done to us,” he said. “This is not the first time for our tribe, or the first time across Canada. They have been doing too many things to us that we can’t ignore.”

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