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World Wilderness Congress meets in Spain, tribes represented

By Lailani Upham

(L to R) The opening session at the 10th World Wilderness Congress Global Forum in Salamanca, Spain, last month. CSKT members and representatives Julie Cajune, and Terry Tanner are seated next to Tashka Yawanawa, Chief of the Yawanawa people in Brazil. (Courtesy Photo)(L to R) The opening session at the 10th World Wilderness Congress Global Forum in Salamanca, Spain, last month. CSKT members and representatives Julie Cajune, and Terry Tanner are seated next to Tashka Yawanawa, Chief of the Yawanawa people in Brazil. (Courtesy Photo)

SALAMANCA, SPAIN — Two representatives from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were invited to be delegates at the world’s longest running conservation project and environmental event this year in Spain.

The 10th World Wilderness Congress theme this year was, “Make the World a Wilder Place” celebrating successes of a combination of protection and restoration policies, social recognition of ecological and economic value, and abandonment of rural areas around the globe.

Julie Cajune, Center for American Indian Policy and Applied Research, and Terry Tanner, CSKT Natural Resources Department Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness coordinator, were asked to present on stewardship within the cultural context of the Flathead Reservation. The teams stories and information were designed to enhance understanding and appreciation of tribal voices to mainstream conservation dialogue that reflects sovereign and indigenous peoples living sustainably.

The Congress brought to light many features of the “wilderness” concept, emphasizing that wild nature can indeed embed peoples and cultures, and sustain livelihoods. It also stressed that wild nature is not a luxury to be enjoyed by a few but an essential patrimony to sustain the health and prosperity of everyone.

In 2005, Vance Martin, The Wild Foundation President, edited and published a book, “Protecting Wild Nature on Native Lands: Case Studies by Native Peoples fro around the World, Volume I. The second volume was produced in 2009 and funded by the Center for American Indian Policy and Applied research at Salish Kootenai College.

Cajune mentions in the book that during a meeting Tanner and Martin attended in Washington D.C. several years ago, Tanner questioned the absence of indigenous people at the table. Martin expressed similar concerns. She said Martin understood the importance of including an indigenous voice in the mainstream conservation dialogue. She said the vision translated into the Native Lands and Wilderness Council (NLWC) that was launched in 2005.

In the book, Martin states, “Native peoples and traditional communities are the original stewards of wild nature, and still control vast areas of wilderness in almost all regions of the world.” Martins say indigenous people were left out of the equation and that is now changing.

Marin says The Wild Foundation has worked for almost 40 years to protect and sustain wilderness areas around the world. One important position is the commitment to partner with native peoples. “This began in the 1960s when we started working with the Zulu peoples and other in Southern Africa.” He said over the years other countries and situation strengthened the links between indigenous and non-indigenous partners to create a network of people working to protect and sustain the global treasure they call – wilderness.

“It is both our collective heritage and the key to a healthy and prosperous future for all people.”

Martin said the publications are a small part of a global community and wide legacy of information and aspiration generated by the network of indigenous groups.

For the past three Congress gathering Cajune said she and Tanner have been co-hosting the NLWC sessions.

Cajune says the third volume is in the works following the latest Congress. “One might think Spain an unusual location for the World Wilderness Congress, but the location was intentional to promote awareness of the Rewilding Europe movement. Rewilding Europe wants to restore natural landscapes in Europe to provide much more space for wildlife, wilderness and natural processes. Rewilding Europe’s goal is to rewild one million hectares (a hectare is 10,000 square meters or 2.471 acres) of land by 2020, creating ten magnificent wildlife and wilderness areas of international quality. Dedicated and passionate individuals and organizations are fueling this movement, and I believe they will realize their goal.”

(Front row): Gisele Martin (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, Canada); Hawk Rosales (Director InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, California); Briannon Fraley (Tolowa Dee-Ni', California); Roberta Cordero (Chumash, California); Julie Cajune (CSKT); three WILD 10 youth walkers; Terry Tanner (CSKT); and two more youth WILD 10 walkers. (Courtesy Photo)(Front row): Gisele Martin (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, Canada); Hawk Rosales (Director InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, California); Briannon Fraley (Tolowa Dee-Ni', California); Roberta Cordero (Chumash, California); Julie Cajune (CSKT); three WILD 10 youth walkers; Terry Tanner (CSKT); and two more youth WILD 10 walkers. (Courtesy Photo)

Last June, CSKT NRD celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness management plan – the first and only tribal wilderness established in the United States.

“The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have such an area of beauty unmatched. It is a sanctuary of natural splendor that has earned the tribe an international reputation for stewardship and conservation. Remarkable accomplishments have been realized across the world through efforts of ordinary people who recognized their place in the world and imagined something grand,” Cajune said.

Much recognition for the CSKT tribal wilderness comes from the people of the past and present.

At the tribal wilderness anniversary, Tom McDonald, CSKT Tribal Wilderness manager stated, “Strong support came from the elders and Tribal Council. They listened, they thought, and gave us direction.”

For over three decades, the direction and support from elected officials on the Tribal Council have given “excellent” direction in protecting the mountains, said McDonald. “It is from our elected officials that were voted in by the people.”

The ground was laid decades before the tribal ordinance came in effect 30 years ago, when the Tribal Council attempted to protect the Mission Mountain range in 1936, said White. During that time a vote by Council to set aside 100,000 aces of the western slope of the Missions for an “Indian-maintained national park.”

The Tribes pursued to retain ownership but went with a plan to parallel with the National Park Service. The local Bureau of Indian Affairs supported and encouraged tribal member use of the park. However, at the time, according to White, nothing came of the Tribal Council’s request in establishing such a park.

Petitions and efforts were back and forth throughout the years to protect the wilderness – and regardless of the conflicts or roadblocks – actual roads were and developments were blocked all the way into 2012.

Today, CSKT Tribal Wilderness Ordinance 79A states, “Wilderness….is the essence of traditional Indian religion and has served Indian people of these Tribes as a place to hunt, as a place to gather medicinal herbs and roots, as a vision seeking ground, as a sanctuary, and in countless other ways for thousand of years.”

Participants in this year’s Native Land and Wilderness Council included Te Marino Lenihan (Maori, New Zealand), Guy Naehu (Kanaka Maoli, Hawaii), Gisele Martin (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, Canada), Hawk Rosales (Director of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, California), Tashka Yawanawa (Yawanawa Chief, Brazil), Briannon Fraley (Tolowa Dee-Ni’, California). Mary Stranahan, The Pema Foundation, and The Joshua Mailman Foundation provided funding for most of these participants. Cajune says, “Without this financial support, the NLWC could not have convened.”

“All of these participants presented case studies of their conservation efforts in their homelands. Additionally, there were many other indigenous leaders and land managers at the Congress. A large group from Australia and others from around the world brought a significant indigenous voice to the mainstream conservation dialogue, and people were listening to this voice intently, Cajune added.

Cajune said, NLWC participants were inspired and encouraged by the active presence of youth at the Congress. “In particular a large group of young people from around Europe walked to Salamanca, some of them walking for two months. They were very interested in NLWC communities and arranged time to speak with us.”

“While the challenges we face are daunting, groups like these young walkers give hope that change can happen and people will come together across political and cultural borders for a shared cause,” Cajune concluded.

For more information on the Congress you can visit the WILD Foundation website at www.wild.org.

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