FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2023
Contact Morrigan Shaw, 907-796-9030, email@example.com
Tribe calls for transparent state agency review of foreign-owned mining company’s permit expansion
KLUKWAN, Alaska (Tlákw Aan) — Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan), along with 170 Haines Borough residents, are requesting more time to review expanding mining efforts in their traditional territory and along one of the state’s most important wild salmon rivers.
The State of Alaska is fast-tracking seismic exploration, water removal, road building and drilling on state forest lands along the banks of the Klehini River. L’Heeni, or Mother Water, in Lingit, is the home of all five species of wild Pacific Salmon. The applicant, Constantine North, which is a mining exploration company now owned by another Canadian company called – American Pacific Mining Corporation, will be driving heavy equipment through salmon spawning streams during summer months, by amending the prior Constantine North exploration permit. The amendment is so expansive in nature, it should require a new permit application.
The State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) did not notify Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) or the residents of the Chilkat Valley of the permit change. They plan to allow the project to move forward under an existing mining exploration permit for a different region of our valley. Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) is asking for a 90-day extension to September 3, 2023 for proper and transparent review of a significant permit expansion and requesting government-to-government consultation between CIV and the State of Alaska agencies especially Alaska Department of Fish and Game before this permit amendment is approved.
Jones P. Hotch Jr., Vice President of Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan), called on local government leaders in Haines, and the region’s residents, to support Klukwan in their request for a longer comment period with public hearings and issue a statement to the DNR.
“We express deep concern regarding the impact of this proposed permit amendment on our people and our neighbors. Impacts like these harm places that have been important to the fish and our people since time immemorial. We are grateful to the over 170 brave community members, our neighbors in Haines, who are supporting this request. Klukwan, we no longer stand alone,” said Jones Hotch Jr., Vice President of Chilkat Indian Village.
Vice President for Dowa Metals & Mining Alaska, Liz Cornejo based in Haines, Alaska who works closely with the exploration company that applied for this permit, verified during a recent meeting that the work proposed in the permit amendment could include potential siting work for a prospective tailings facility. Ms. Cornejo said, “It’s for potential tailings storage facility.”
The Klehini River is one of the only rivers in Southeast Alaska with all five species of wild salmon, including a transboundary wild King Salmon run important to the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples across both U.S. and Canadian borders. The Klehini and Chilkat Rivers support the region’s second largest Coho (silver) salmon run, which has become even more important for the region’s trollers as King salmon fishing season is called into question by the recent court ruling in Wild Fish Conservancy vs. Rumsey.
President Kimberley Strong from Chilkat Indian Village echoed the importance of the Tribe’s request. “We firmly believe that our communities and governments need an opportunity to review this permit amendment thoroughly. Obtaining technical expertise is vital, given that the proposed permit amendment will impact all residents who live and work in this valley and rely on the land and water for our shared subsistence lifestyles. Klukwan calls on the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources to respect our sovereignty and honor our request.”
Chilkat Indian Village (Klukwan) is a federally recognized tribal government whose traditional territory encompasses Jilḵáat Aani Ḵa Héeni (Chilkat River Watershed).