International Law Issues > We Stand Here

Declaring Individual Sovereign Rights To The UN
26 Jun 2005

RLR Enterprises Group                                                                             2005
Original Peoples Developments

June 25th 2005


Whereas, I ………………………………………………….{ name printed }  the undersigned, a free person and a member of the sovereign nation of Cowichan Tribes, Turtle Island have reviewed my decision to endorse the founding Charter Of The United Nations; and, therein, to further endorse the other existing Charters and provisions which have been endorsed through the General Assembly of The United Nations.

And, upon this said review, I have further determined by free will to pronounce this acceptance of the jurisdiction of the United Nations onto my personal lands until further notice in writing; and therein upon the prevailing members of my family that I continue to have a direct responsibility to protect and nurture.

Therefore, I have endorsed a copy of the said Charter of The United Nations as testament of my conviction to see this institution grow with integrity and strong good ethic.

Now, in consequence, it is my free decision to have this document witnessed by a Notary Public; and, then, for this document to be submitted to the attention of the General Assembly of The United Nations and all nations. I request acknowledgement by The United Nations in writing to the address, as below, within a reasonable time, by international standards.

I take the above affirmative stand in order to protect my family.


Party Signing ………………………………………………… { signature }

                       …………………………………………………. { printed }

Address   ………………………………………………………………………………………….

I make this declaration as a free person and as a member of Cowichan Tribes; a sovereign nation, Turtle Island


Witness …………………………………………… { signature }

              …………………………………………… { printed }

Address   ………………………………………………………………………………………….

I make this declaration as a free person and as a member of Cowichan Tribes; a sovereign nation, Turtle Island

 

 

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Wild land, historic case

'We are the only First Nations in Canada that fought and went to war to protect our land,' says xeni gwet'IN Chief Roger William

 
Richard Watts
Times Colonist

It's a groundbreaking lawsuit where ancient myth is becoming material evidence, where modern legal custom is accommodating ancient culture. In a Victoria courtroom, the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation, a small community of the Tsilhqot'in people (Chilcotin in the anglicized version), and its chief, Roger William, are trying to assert their ownership of the territory they inhabit, the Nemiah Valley.

The Nemiah is part of the area west of Williams Lake, butting up alongside the mountains and virtually isolated until the early 1970s. But now the Xeni Gwet'in are in court fighting incursions by industrial logging on land they have always viewed as theirs.

But legal rules mean the Xeni Gwet'in have to prove it's theirs. To do that they have taken B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Vickers on a courtroom version of an anthropological expedition.

The court has heard from Tsilhqot'in people who speak almost no English and needed the help of a translator.

There have been times when the court sat at night, because Tsilhqot'in custom demands some legends and stories not be spoken while the sun is up.

The court listened as Tsilhqot'in witnesses provided older placenames, mountain by mountain and river by river, for the names on the current map of the land they inhabit.

For example, Mount Tatlow was named "Tsilos" and is believed to have been once a man, and a nearby peak was identified as "Eniyud," who used to be his wife. And perhaps proving some ancient traditions are alive and well, the Tsilhqot'in say the couple had a fight and refused to get back together. But to put their own twist on a familiar story, the Tsilhqot'in say Tsilos and Eniyud were so obstinate they were turned to stone.

According to Nemiah -- The Unconquered Country by Terry Glavin, the land watched over by Tsilos and Eniyud, that is the Chilcotin, is a part of Canada where regular road access in and out didn't arrive until 1973. Even then it took a field squad of Canadian military engineers to complete it.

This isolation has meant the first spoken language for many people is Tsilhqot'in, not English.

The land forms a plateau of rolling hills, relatively flat, compared to the mountains it borders. The Tsilhqot'in today are largely ranchers. And they have been horse people for centuries. Simon Fraser wrote of meeting and seeing Tsilhqot'in people on horseback on his journeys in 1808.

The Chilcotin is also the site of an 1864 episode, known as the Chilcotin War. In response to a threat from a white land speculator to bring smallpox to the area, Tsilhqot'in people, already ravaged by the disease, rose up and killed several crews, about 15 people in total.

Armed expeditions were sent in response and it ended with Tsilhqot'in rebels finally coming in to talk peace. But instead of talking they were arrested and quickly tried. Seven were hanged.

Mystery persists as to the identity of the leader of the uprising. Records identify him as Lhasasin or Klatsassin, a chief of his people. But that word in Tsilhqot'in translates as "We do not know his name." His lineage has never been established.

The Chilcotin War is little known today in B.C. and almost unknown in Canada.

But according to Chief Roger William and his colleagues, in a recent interview in Victoria, the story is still very much alive in the Xeni Gwet'in consciousness.

It's one of the first cultural tales Tsilhqot'in children are taught. And as far as they are concerned the Tsilhqot'in didn't lose. Despite the fate of the hanged seven the Chilcotin War was at worst (for the Tsilhqot'in) a tie.

After all, once it was over, white settlers stayed out and the Tsilhqot'in were left on their own.

"We are the only First Nations in Canada that fought and went to war to protect our land," said William in an interview at the Victoria Court House.

"Ever since then all Tsilhqot'in people have done everything we can to protect it," said William. "Here (in court) we, as a nation, are saying this is our land."

"If we lose this court case, we will still be living there and we will still be fighting for it," said William.

The Chilcotin War also left a deep mistrust of courtrooms and legal proceedings. After all, Tsilhqot'in warriors came down in good faith to talk.

Instead they were betrayed and hanged.

So when Joe Alphonse, an official with the Tsilhqot'in National Government, and only 37, explains his role as an observer, he indicates William. "As far as I'm concerned anybody tries to hang him, is going to have to go through me," said Alphonse.

And the mistrust of courtrooms made the decision to go to court a difficult one. After all, the Xeni Gwet'in are only 300 to 400 people out of about 4,000. Many of the Tsilhqot'in people believed nothing good would come from a lawsuit.

But Alphonse and William said since the decision was made, the Tsilhqot'in have been behind the Nemiah.

So far, court testimony has taken more than two years and it is likely to go on well into 2006.

According to John Borrows, University of Victoria law professor specializing in aboriginal law, this lengthy period is driven largely because the court is entering a new field of law when dealing with aboriginal rights and title.

Other areas of law, like criminal law, have hundreds of years of precedent behind them. Even personal injury law has decades of precedent and standards, all of which refine and define a person's rights.

"But in this case we are in the dawn of a new era; that's why it is taking so long," said Borrows.

He called the Xeni Gwet'in's case very important. It is the first time an aboriginal people have tested the concept of aboriginal title since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1997 in the Delgamukw decision that aboriginal title does, in law, exist.

"There has not really been a case that has really tested that factually upon the ground," said Borrows.

Jack Woodward, the Victoria lawyer representing the Xeni Gwet'in, said the Canadian and B.C. governments are bringing enormous vigor to the defence, so meeting the test in law is taking time.

Woodward said the Xeni Gwet'in are being forced back to their beginnings. They are being forced to prove in court what they have always known in life -- that the land they inhabit, that their parents and grandparents inhabited, is theirs because they have always lived upon it.

"They are being forced to prove the obvious," he said.

Representatives of the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs declined to comment on the case while it is before the courts.

But Woodward said the case, despite the time and expense (his fees are being paid by government in almost the same way a divorce claimant can apply for support during a case) will be worth it.

At the end of the trial, estimated to come some time in 2006, Woodward said the court will come down with a more definitive answer to who owns the land. And this will provide some legal precedent to strengthen and define aboriginal title and rights, everywhere else.

Woodward said the Nemiah, with its other-worldly timelessness, has already worked itself into his own life. The place, even now, has the sense and feel even a modern lawyer must accommodate.

The first affidavit Woodward took was from an elderly Tsilhqot'in man in 1989, sitting on a stump, around a fire, talking through an interpreter.

And his Tsilhqot'in clients now call him "Dlig" which means squirrel. It arose from what they saw as Woodward's pre-occupation with squirrels as he discussed trapping and traplines.

(Trapping licences predate logging permits by decades, a fact which will be of big legal importance in the case, insists Woodward.)

Glavin, author of Nemiah and a former newspaper journalist long interested in B.C.'s Native peoples, is still captivated by the Tsilhqot'in story.

Glavin said their history is rich, their country is magnificent. And even now, their current court battle where Tsilhqot'in legends are arrayed against modern logging interests, makes for a fascinating story.

"I know it makes life complicated for forest companies and mining companies," said Glavin. "But as British Columbians would you want it any other way?"

"This is what makes the landscape beautiful, interesting, wild and ours."

TIMELINE: BLOODY CONFLICT IN CHILCOTIN COUNTRY

This timeline is abridged from We Do Not Know His Name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War. (Klatsassin was also known as Lhasasin.) The archival documents form one of the stories that make up Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, which are found at the website, www.canadianmysteries.ca

1836

Hudson's Bay Co. establishes Fort Chilcotin near the junction of the Chilcotin and Chilco Rivers, but abandons it in 1844 over Tsilhqot'in resistance.

1861

Oct. 24: Alfred Waddington, Roderick Finlayson and William F. Tolmie of the Hudson's Bay Co. send Robert Homfray, with a party of six, to survey a road from Bute Inlet to Alexandria. Homfray's party does not get past Homathco Canyon, is rescued by the Tsilhqot'in, and returns in a "half-starved condition" Dec. 20.

1862

March 12: The steamer Brother Jonathan arrives in Victoria from San Francisco bringing smallpox.

April: Alex McDonald and his partner William Manning homestead at Bendziny (Puntzi Lake) in Tsilhqot'in territory.

July 4: Nine of a party of 20 miners including Francis Poole arrive at Alexandria. They leave two Canadian brothers sick with smallpox, at Naukuluff in the Bella Coola Valley, and two others at the Tsilhqot'in village at Chilcotin Lake.

1863

April 24: The steamer Enterprise reaches head of Bute Inlet with 91 road-builders and 19 mules. Waddington hires Tsilhqot'in packers, including Chief Tilagued (a.k.a. Tellot, Telloot).

Nov. 15: Waddington and 70 men return from Bute Inlet where they have built 35 kilometres of trail, including 66 bridges. Cushen, a Tsilhqot'in of about 25, is left to guard a storehouse containing flour left by road builders for the next season.

1864

March 22: Schooner F.P. Green reaches the head of Bute Inlet with Waddington's 16-man road crew and painter Frederick Whymper.

Mid-April: 16 packers hired, all but two of them Tsilhqot'in. The Tsilhqot'in establish their camp not far from the main road-builders' camp just below Homathco Canyon.

April 20: Chief Klatsassin's son Pierre (Biyil), 15, leaves his family camp near the townsite for the road crews' camp, where he has a long talk with Tsilhqot'in packers.

April 25: Klatsassin leaves for the Homathco ferry with his three wives, two sons and two daughters, one of whom he has just ransomed from the Euclataws. Accompanying them is Cushen and a Tsilhqot'in called Scarface by the whites.

April 25: Waddington sends the schooner Amelia to Bella Coola with Alex McDonald and four men. They are to go to meet Manning at Puntzi Lake and cut a trail toward Bute Inlet.

April 28: Klatsassin's party reaches the ferry about 9 a.m. where they meet Chayses and Yahooslas. The ferryman, Tim Smith, is killed.

April 29: Road foreman William Brewster sends the Homalco packer Inuqa-Jem, also called Squinteye, to the ferry. Telloot is with him. They meet Klatsassin and his party around 11 a.m. loaded with supplies from the ferry. Squinteye is given two blankets and warned not to tell.

April 30: At 3 a.m., Squinteye arrives at Waddington townsite and tells of Smith's murder. Whymper does not believe the story and leaves for Victoria.

At daybreak the war party attacks the sleeping road crew, killing nine of the 12. It then heads to the advance road camp where Brewster and three others are killed.

May 3: Three wounded survivors arrive at Bute Inlet townsite.

May 11: Survivors arrive at Victoria on the steamer Emily Harris at 8 a.m., and the first news of the killings reaches Victoria.

May 13: Information dispatched to Gov. Frederick Seymour reaches him at 10:30 pm.

May 15: The gunboat Forward is dispatched at 6 p.m. with Chartes Brew and his force; 28 special constables with Waddington and the survivor Edward Mosely depart for Bute Inlet.

Mid-May: Manning is killed at his Puntzi Lake homestead.

May 17: McDonald and his party of five leave Bella Coola.

May 20: The Brew party reaches Homathco. Brew conducts inquest but finds trail impassable and awaits orders. They are recalled.

May 23: McDonald party departs Nooscults, 40 kilometres up the Bella Coola Valley, where the Hamilton family lives. He meets a packer named McDougall and his wife, a Tsilhqot'in from Nagwuntl'u named Klymtedza, and two English miners, Higgins and Grant. They decide to travel together, with another Tsilhqot'in named Tom.

May 31: 9 a.m, McDonald pack train turns around to return to Bella Coola after being warned by Klymtedza that they would be attacked. They march eight kilometres back and are attacked. Higgins, McDougall and McDonald are killed as well as Klymtedza and one Tsilhqot'in attacker.

June 8: A party of 65 men led by William George Cox leaves Alexandria hunting for killers of the road crew and Manning.

June 20: Brew party with Gov. Seymour start from Bella Coola for Tsilhqot'in territory with 38 volunteers from New Westminster, and 30 Bella Coola natives.

June 30: Brew and Seymour reach the summit of mountains entering Tsilhqot'in territory, having suffered the loss of three horses, 20 Indians by desertion, and one volunteer accidentally wounded.

July 6: The two forces meet at Puntzi [Benshee], and on the following day a pary led by Cox is sent south toward the Bute Inlet mountains.

July 17: In defiance of Cox's orders, Donald McLean leaves the main camp searching for the Tsilhqot'in. He is shot through the heart.

July 20: Cox party returns, retreating after death of McLean, to Benshee.

July 20-22: Chief Alexis and party come to meet Seymour. Pack train arrives from Alexandria

Aug. 15: At 8:30 a.m., eight of the Tsilhqot'in warriors including Klatsassin, Telloot and Tapitt come into Cox's camp near the old Hudson Bay Fort on Chilko River to meet the Governor and discuss terms. They are arrested.

Aug. 27: Cox's party reaches Alexandria with the captives who are sent on by steamer to Quesnellemouth [Quesnel] and jailed in a cabin.

Sept. 28-29: The Trial of Klatsassin and the eight others takes place.

Oct. 26: Klatsassin and others hanged at 7 a.m., 250 in attendance. "Klatsassin is the finest savage I have met with," Judge Matthew Begbie wrote after the trial.

1865

Feb. 16: Reports warn to expect another attack from the Tsilhqot'in.

May 29: Mr. Moss arrives in New Westminster with two Tsilhqot'in, Ahan (Kwutan) and Lutas. They met Moss on their way to Bella Coola to offer compensation for their deeds.

July 3: Trial of Lutas and Ahan begins, lasts 3 hours.

July 18: Ahan is executed at New Westminster.

The Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History provides materials to high schools and universities for the teaching of historical methods and Canadian History. The project, based in part at the University of Victoria, has started a series of instructional websites with the idea that students can be drawn into Canadian history and archival research through the enticement of solving historical cold crimes. All the material is provided free as a public service.

Ran with fact box "Timeline: Bloody Conflict in Chilcotin Country" which has been appended to the story. Second Chilcotin War: a Bloodless Courtroom Drama

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

Ralph Charles Goodwin, President, Gaia-Watts

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