MAC/20: Mines and Communities

quot;Jerry Asp, You are no longer Chief of the Tahltan People"

Published by MAC on 2005-01-25

"Jerry Asp, You are no longer Chief of the Tahltan People"

Press Release - Tahltan Elders Peaceful Demonstration

25th January 2005

Tahltan Elders are in their 11th day of occupation of the Tahltan Band office in Telegraph, B.C. In an unprecedented move 35 elders took over the band office on January 17, 2005. This day will go down in Tahltan history as the day the Elders took back their power. Elders have played a very marginal role in band, nation and corporate decision-making. Our land, resources and rights are being sold out from under us. The spiritual and collective power is so strong, no power, force could change or overpower. The senior elders hold meetings throughout the day, they tell stories. They give age-old teachings from our ancestors and their great love and reverence for the land - TAHLTAN TRADITIONAL TERRITORY - Prayers are offered for our nation, the land and all of Creation, including Jerry Asp. We have laughed together, cried together, and planned together. Each day brings and new teaching in many disguises. Yet, we stand strong to protect the land for future generations. This position is non-negotiable.

The Tahltan elders are demanding the resignation of the Indian Act Chief J. Asp. In their words they have fired the past Chief. We are united on this stand. One elder says, "He has done enough harm to our People, and puts us in danger of losing everything."

Clarence Quock, Band Councillor and runner for Jerry Asp informed the elders that a court injunction will be applied to have the dissidents removed. Asp's approach with the elders and his reference to them as dissidents has outraged Tahltans, who hold elders in high regard. The use of courts and laws to repress those without the financial means to employ legal representation is well-known. However, for an Aboriginal person to do the same is shameful. This story is about the haves and the have-nots. Asp is prepared to repress the dissenting voices in order to maintain a strangle hold on his people. Such control by his large family has been evident since Tahltans began organizing in the 70's. Traditional Tahltans are tired of having this large family dominate political discussions, political organizing and thwart efforts to unite our people.

Asp and family have learned the white mans' way well and are now using this knowledge against their people. They have mistakenly discounted us, saying we do not have any educated people. Our traditional knowledge goes back to time immemorial. Back to a time without papers, computers, and contemporary law. This knowledge has been upheld in the courts.

Last night, an elder's home was entered and an elder assaulted. This display of aggression was done in favor of Jerry Asp. With each passing day tension mounts and this will spark such behavior in frustration. The elders have never threatened any band staff or kept them out of the office. The elders are here in peace to strengthen our nation, not to put up further divisions among our people.

Elders talk about the lack of accountability, transparency and representation. Mining companies will destroy our country in the name of profit. Leaders like Jerry Asp, Curtis Rattray and Clarence Quock have stated that there is nothing we could do. We think not. We believe not. The elders are the Keepers of land, culture and language. When we stand with them, we stand with our ancestors, whose spirits have been with us every day of the occupation. We are spiritual people, we believe in ourselves. The collective is stronger than any one person, family, or belief. The Tahltan world view or philosophy though unwritten runs strong through our hearts, our minds and our veins.

For more information contact Terri Brown (250) 235-3151 or terribrown@sympatico.ca or Oscar Dennis (250) 234-3161 or oscardennis@hotmail.com

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