Gate to Madii Lii
This choke point effectively cuts off access for industrial contractors into the territory, including to 32 km of TransCanada's proposed PRGT fracked gas pipeline route (learn more about the pipeline here).
The territory is now occupied full time, and our traditional traplines, hunting grounds, and trails are under use, as per Gitxsan Ayookw (Gitxsan Laws). We are planning for a busy summer of building a smokehouse, rootcellar, and gardens, as well as operating programs that will bring our young people, adults, and elders onto the territory to learn about our medicines, gather food, and reconnect with the land (see 2015 project proposals). Madii Lii for us is first and foremost a place of healing, of undoing the trauma of colonization, and of inspiring a new way forward without continued forces of oppression. We welcome guests who respect this.
We have never ceded, treatied, or surrendered control of our land. Luutkudziiwus’ special relationship to and stewardship of land, water, and respective resources on Madii Lii territory provide grounds for and affirm our rights, including title, guaranteed by Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Friends and community gather to hear our cheifs speak at Madii Lii celebration. Oct.25, 2014.
Below is a statement by one of our Luutkuziiwus members about why the camp was built and what it stands for:
Read the statement as it appears in Vancouver Observer here.
"Let’s be clear – the BC Government has created and perpetuated a system that pits industry against First Nations. It divides communities and negatively impacts the investment climate in BC. It is this system the House of Luutkudziiwus, with the support of many other Gitxsan House groups, other First Nations and non-First Nation, are standing against. We welcome those who would use our territory for non-industrial activities such as fishing, hunting, food/medicine gathering, or outdoor recreation. We are not opposed to logging and would like to enter into access agreements that respect our House. We will never let LNG pipelines or related activities onto our Territory, it is simply too destructive and short-sighted."
"The state of our Gitxsan nation has become very disheartening as people are desperately trying to protect what traditional territory we have left. We seek to uphold the Gitxsan law of Gwalx Ye’insxwtis. This is a deep and broad principle with reference to the land and culture on traditional territory, it is described as the belief and ethic of “we received a full basket and it’s our duty to pass a full basket on.” Our ancestors have left us with a legacy that is being tainted by the ways of the western world system; power and financial wealth through industrialization of traditional lands. Our wealth is directly linked to the health of land and our people are being stifled into situations where their voices are not being heard or validated."
"The voices of our hereditary Chiefs, matriarchs (mothers & grandmothers) are being told that they are not able to share what is weighing heavy on their hearts because they haven’t been given an opportunity or a platform to do so. Our Wilp (House) consists of three, high-ranking Hereditary Chiefs: Luutkudziiwus-Charlie Wright, Xsimjiitsiin-Lester Moore, & Noohla-Norman Moore. All of which have been oppressed under systems like the Gitxsan Treaty Society; that have been created to “represent the Gitxsan” and is the only entity that the Government officials consult with meaningfully, the rest of us get lip service."
"This is the same entity (GTS) that signed with Enbridge, the same entity that has spent over $20 million of tax payer dollars trying to come to a treaty agreement with the BC Government but almost 20 years later are no closer than when they started, the same entity whose frivolous spending habits were only revealed through an audit demanded by the Gitxsan people who blockaded their office until the audit was issued. This is who the BC Government chooses to consult with, this is who gets the funding for the Gitxsan Nation despite the fact that many Gitxsan are litigating against the GTS. The GTS operates by spending tax-payer dollars and negotiating agreements with industry that benefit a few and leave the much of the nation in poverty."
Building the cabin at Madii Lii. Guests at Madii Lii.
"This is very disheartening as there have been some major discussions with Government and LNG that affect our territory- Maddii ‘Lii in the Suskwa Valley. The ramifications of the decisions could be catastrophic for our community, our Wilp and for our wild salmon. We are dependent on these things to sustain us; our wildlife, salmon, air, water, plants, medicines, berries, etc. Our Hereditary Chiefs Luutkudziiwus-Charlie Wright, Xsimjiitsiin-Lester Moore, & Noohla-Norman Moore and their House members have asserted the right to protect and manage their territory in a non-destructive, peaceful manner."
"Neither the BC Government nor the LNG industry has ever entered into any agreement, consultation, or had meaningful discussion with our Wilp (house) despite our repeated attempts from our House Chiefs to seek solutions. Land use planning for us is going to be one that causes NO harm, it shouldn’t have the kinds of impacts that won’t allow us to sustain ourselves or our future generations. If our territory is damaged, we do not get another, we can’t move to find a better location. This is all we have."
Cabin at Madii Lii.
Luutkudziiwus shares moose meat at Madii Lii. Community wall raising.
"We may not have control of the world; but as a nation, community and as a House group with aboriginal rights and title, we can stand together to protect the natural resources and all that connects us. We are the caretakers of the Territory. It is not only our right to protect and gather our resources without damaging or destroying any lifecycle, it is our responsibility. We would like our children and generations to come to walk through our territories with its abundant natural resources for generations to come."
Hamiiya, (with gratitude)
Luu Bahlum Giitsa
Madii Lii is the Lax Yip (territory) of the Wilp (house) of Luutkudziiwus of the Gitxsan Nation. The territory is located in the Suskwa valley, and is accessed via the Suskwa Forest Service Rd at km 15 (click here for maps). Our Wilp consists of three high-ranking Simgiigyet (Hereditary Chiefs): Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright), Xsimjiitsiin (Lester Moore), & Noohla (Norman Moore), and over 600 other Wilp members. The Gitxsan Nation is divided into 64 Wilps (Luutkudziiwus is one of the most populous), and within the Gitxsan Matriarchal Hereditary System, Wilp chiefs are the highest ranking in the nation.
On Aug. 26, 2014, our chiefs permanently closed Madii Lii territory to all pipeline development (watch film of event here). A gate was erected at the entrance to the territory at 15 km bridge on the Suskwa FSR, and a cabin built to control access to the territory.
We are now pursuing legal advice about obtaining Title to our land in the eyes of contemporary Canadian and BC colonial law. The groundwork for obtaining Title was laid by the Delgamuukw (1997) and Tsilhqot'in (2014) court decisions. Title would return all governance and authority to its rightful holders, our matriarchal hereditary leaders, and would put any pipeline proposals to rest for good.
Our house group has been supported by dozens of Gitxsan and non-Gitxsan volunteers and supporters. This is not just our fight. We are standing alongside numerous other nations and communities that are standing up for a livable world against fracking, pipelines, mega-consumption, and oppression of all kinds. Click here to learn about some of our allies. If you would like to help, please click here.