Monday, February 24, 2020

The Wet’suwet’en have resolved land issues for millennia with their own legal system. An all-clans Feast could help resolve the current dispute.

Professor Douglas Sanderson, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, writes for Policy Options:

"In 1986, in preparation for the Delgamuukw land rights trial that would be held in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, an all clans feast was held in in Wet’suwet’en territory, in the northwestern central interior of the province. The feast was organized to help establish that there were no overlaps in territorial claims between the Gitskan and Wet’suwet’en, who were the key plaintiffs; and further, to ensure no overlap of territorial claims between the Gitskan and Wet’suwet’en’s tribal neighbours the Babine, Nisga’a and Carrier. The chiefs representing the various hereditary groups or “Houses” in the Gitskan and Wet’suwet’en nations, verbally marked out their territories during the feast, describing the bounds of each of their territorial boundaries, and demonstrating how those boundaries bumped up against the territories of the House chiefs to the north, south, east and west. They described the features of their territories as unique territorial markers that were echoed in the symbols and patterning of their chiefly robes, masks, and in crests on the walls of their lodges and feast houses. For example, if there was a mountain top where white ptarmigan – a kind of bird – lived exclusively, the chief whose house included that mountain would have a crest of white ptarmigan feathers."

Read the full article at Policy Options