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BC First Nations and Environmentalism – Germany-based Website

A new website devoted to BC First Nations, historical relations with settler governments, and concerns about the extraction of natural resources has appeared out of Germany and the Institute for the History of Science. Titled ‘First Nations: Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia,’ the website has a sharp focus:

This “First Nations” website documents in pictures with commentary the havoc caused by European settler society to the pre colonial world of what is now known as British Columbia. It argues that the road back to environmental sanity must go through the restitution of past wrongs to First Nations by means of strong support for their land rights over and against the continuing rapacious and short sighted destruction of ancient trees, salmon runs, grizzly bear habitats, etc. Combining historical representations with images of current affairs, this website links the results of scientific and scholarly studies with political activism.

The site is built around several topics that are central to conflicts between natives and non-natives and where exploitation of the environment has affected native groups. These topics are labeled land, invasion, forestry, fisheries, mining, and development. The experiences of specific First Nations illustrate each topic.

I am particularly excited about the site because the modules on Tahltan experiences with mining companies — the protests and blockades of the past two years — are complete. They offer a detailed history, replete with links to relevant archival sources and news stories, of the resistance to mining at Iskut and Telegraph Creek, BC.

As I read through the site, I had the sense that I was reading ‘super-sized’ blog posts. Links to archival documents, photographs, and websites are scattered throughout the text. The pages are illustrated richly with photographs. All that was missing was a place to post comments on each page.

Many of the modules are not complete yet. If the rigourous research and linking to source material continues, this site will become a fantatsic resource for anthropologists and historians of BC and Canada. Instructors will find the materials very useful for preparing classes on topics like ‘native and newcomers’ or aboriginal rights.

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