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Tahltan Elders Media Release February 17, 2005

Published by MAC on 2005-02-17

Tahltan Elders Media Release February 17, 2005

Dempsey Bob, Master Carver, Returns Home to Support the Tahltan Elders

(Telegraph Creek, BC/Ottawa) With little fanfare Dempsey Bob, a world-renowned Tahltan/Tlingit artist quietly joined the Tahltan elders' peaceful demonstration. The elders celebrate his spirit as the old ones have beckoned him to return to his homeland on a serious matter. Like many Tahltans living outside of their territory, Dempsey heard on January 17, 2005, that Tahltan elders had taken over the band office in Telegraph Creek, B.C. In disbelief, they phone relatives to give them an update. Like many Tahltans his conclusion was that "it's about time."

In an interview, Dempsey Bob firmly stated, "We have to protect our animals and fish. If we lose our animals it will be forever, we can't eat oil, gas and minerals."

Tahltan elders sit, knit, sleep, tell stories, sew, eat and talk about their great nation. They have been doing this for an entire month. The elders have forced Jerry Asp out of office. He no longer represents the Tahltan people. Jerry Asp has lost all credibility. He is far too cozy with industry and government and poses a threat to our very existence.

His threats and intimidation tactics do not work anymore. He has threatened the elders with a court injunction, lawsuits and violence. Twice two different supporters of Asp attacked an elder. However, the elders will not move until he formally resigns his position as Chief Councilor.

Henry Quock comes in regularly to tell stories and to tease people. Many times he brings tears of gratitude. He says, "In the past, a leader was watched from the time they were little. The elders chose a leader based solely upon his ability to be honest." Honesty was a principle that was absolutely honoured in a leader. That is a far cry from today's leaders. Today, we have leaders like Asp who can openly discredit, disrespect, and attack elders and walk away convinced that they are not worth listening to. It is a sad situation when a leader has not been taught properly in the ways of his people. This is definitely a recipe for disaster.

Sixty-four-year-old Lucy Brown has slept every night on the floor of the band office. Everyday she has words of encouragement. Do her actions count for anything? Do any of the elders count for anything? They certainly counted when Asp needed their support. Every day someone states, "We cannot give up, we have too much at stake." "If we give up, what will be left for our children?" and before anyone gets too serious, someone tells a joke.

We thank you all for your support.

For more information contact Terri Brown, Spokesperson at (613) 791-4492 or theresabrown@sympatico.ca

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