BC Archaeologists Violated Rules for Protecting Indigenous Sites, Must Re-Evaluate Site C Bridge Construction

Garth Lenz, DeSmog.ca

BC Hydro Violated Rules for Protecting Indigenous Sites, Must Re-Evaluate Site C Bridge Construction

By Emma Gilchrist | August 31, 2017

BC Hydro violated its environmental assessment certificate for the Site C dam project, according to a B.C. government report released Thursday.

The inspection report, from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, detailed how BC Hydro failed to develop acceptable mitigation measures for an aboriginal sweat lodge and suspected burial site, and cannot legally proceed with a bridge related to Site C highway relocation until it does so.

This means BC Hydro’s controversial highway re-location will need to be assessed again by the Environmental Assessment Office and an alternate route long supported by the First Nations may be considered after all.

“BC Hydro has not developed mitigation for known cultural values in the Bear Flats area, including the sweat lodge (and nearby camp) and the potential burial site…” noted the report, which points out that BC Hydro is well aware of the cultural importance of the area for local First Nations.

BC Hydro has been warned of non-compliance with regards to the 455-metre bridge BC Hydro planned as part of the highway relocation in an area of the valley called Cache Creek-Bear Flats, according to the 54-page report issued following a five-month investigation.

“As BC Hydro has been advised that the [Cultural Resources Management Plan] is not ‘to the satisfaction of’ the EAO and that it must be updated prior to conducting construction activities that may impact known cultural resources, it may be a non-compliance if BC Hydro were to proceed to conduct construction activities that may impact known cultural resources,” the report reads.

West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson welcomed the findings, saying that BC Hydro has been “out of line” with his nation and the Prophet River First Nation. They jointly filed a complaint with the EAO in early April.

“A Crown Corporation should be setting the bar on how other [resource project] proponents have to deal with First Nations,” Willson said.

“They’re supposed to be setting the benchmark on this thing. What they’re doing is lowering the benchmark.”

Willson said the two First Nations repeatedly asked BC Hydro and the former B.C. government to use a short-listed alternate route for the Site C highway relocation and Cache Creek bridge to avoid “desecrating” aboriginal grave sites and to protect the sweat lodge and traditional gathering place at the confluence of Cache Creek and the Peace River.

But BC Hydro contractors clear-cut much of the Cache Creek area in February and March, after expropriating property from third generation Peace Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon, leaving the land looking like a “moonscape,” according to Willson.

Willson said he was at a meeting in Vancouver in March with BC Hydro representatives to discuss the issue of the Site C highway relocation when the forest near the sweat lodge and grave site was mulched.

“They were cutting the right of way as we were down there trying to solve the issue,” Willson said. …

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‘Unesco-cide’: How World Heritage Status Harm’s Cities and Heritage

‘Unesco-cide’: Does World Heritage Status Do Cities More Harm than Good?

Laignee Barron | August 30, 2017

Many of the 1,052 destinations across the world that have been stamped with United Nations world heritage status struggle to strike the balance between the economic benefits of catering to visitors and preserving the culture that drew the recognition.

The heritage designation began in 1972 to identify and protect places “of outstanding universal value”. However, by raising the international profile of a location, the label also fuels a rush of visitors and opens the door to commercialisation that can dilute the site’s authenticity.

“It is an inevitable destiny: the very reasons why a property is chosen for inscription on the world heritage list are also the reasons why millions of tourists flock to those sites year after year,” wrote Francesco Bandarin, the former world heritage director at Unesco, in a 2002 manual called Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites.

The phenomenon has even been given a name by Italian writer Marco d’Eramo, who argues that Unesco preserves buildings but allows the communities around them to be destroyed, often by tourism. He calls it “Unesco-cide”.

Laos’ Luang Prabang, for example, a world heritage town of around 50,000 people, now expects to attract more than 700,000 tourists by 2018. Researcher Chloe Maurel has written about the adverse affects of the status on the historic Casco Viejo neighbourhood in Panama City, which relegated its poorest inhabitants to the city limits following its Unesco validation – while the central district was flooded with tourists.

National Geographic has collated examples such as Xian, China, site of the famous terracotta warriors, where a poorly situated new museum may have negatively impacted the precious site. Writers Lauri Hafvenstein and Brian Handwerk also pointed to the controversial activity close to the Belize’s Barrier Reef, where developers are closing in and exploiting the region’s world heritage status to sell swamp land to customers over the internet.

For George Town and its clan jetties, the Unesco imprimatur seemingly provided a second wind. Established as the straits base for the British East India Company in 1786, the outpost attracted swells of artisans, sailors and traders in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fishermen and porters from southern China’s Fujian province carved out an enclave above the reclaimed seafront. Each extended family – or clan – occupied their own jetty, and the makeshift settlements grew as relatives emigrated and added to the stilt homes interconnected by a wooden walkway. …

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In a Rational World, Can Tribal Knowledge Lead Us Into the Future?

In a Rational World, Can Tribal Knowledge Lead Us Into the Future?

Tribal knowledge could be the key to understanding earth and global climate change

By Duane Champagne | August 31, 2017

The goals and values of Indigenous Peoples stress that the world is full of give and take. Life is a great gift. One has a role to play in community and society. Individuals seek to find that role or life purpose and to fulfill one’s given task. Ceremonies are often about seeking personal and tribal understandings and directions. The world is full of meaning and purpose, although people are not gifted with a complete understanding of the future or present. Tribal knowledge is made up of ceremonial interpretations and human experiences. Elders collect knowledge on their long life journeys and pass information onto other generations.

Each nation, and each person, has a purpose or role to play. The way of the world, however, is not known to humans. The universe has direction and purpose, but each nation or person only comprehends and can affect a part of the whole. This view is something like the Big Bang Theory, where the universe is rushing through space in all directions, but we do not know why or what will happen in the end. We as persons and nations are along for the ride. The force and direction of the universe may be what many Indigenous Peoples called the Great Spirit. The powers and forces of the universe are beyond knowledge and power of people, and therefore people and nations should always be humble and forgiving in life.

A cultural theme within contemporary modernism is the increasing rationality of the world. Markets are favored, in part, because markets are efficient, productive, and profitable ways to distribute goods. Science brings greater understanding of the organization and activities within nature. Science dominates over religion and culture. Culture and being are subordinated to the requirements of efficiency. Religion and culture are preferably separated from government and economic decision-making.

In Western tradition, the earth is made up of raw material waiting for transformation into a product useful to humans. A major purpose is the transformation and control of the world for political and economic domination. The earth, full of wild and useless beings, needs to be transformed into objects that serve the goals and purposes of humans and nations. Making heaven on earth is a deep underlying cultural goal in Western nations. Heaven, where all human needs and wants are satisfied, is a central goal and purpose for people and of history. History marks the realization of creating heaven on earth. The achievement of utopia, or heaven on earth, will be reward of progress and rationality at the end of history. Humans at the end of history will be the center of the universe and in control of the earth’s resources. The heavy emphasis on material goals in life lead to a world bereft of enchantment or cultural interpretation.

In recent years, because of the increasing apparentness of global environmental change, people have become aware of the need to understand the earth as a complex, interrelated place where humans and nations play a negative role. However, the mere understanding that humans have been neglecting the world, and need to change their environmental habits, is not enough. Such a position remains entirely within the rationality worldview, and does not give enough attention to holistic, philosophical, and culturally-based understandings.

Rational methods created the current environmental crisis. And perhaps one could generalize to other aspects of the over rationality of the present world in terms of race, ethnic, national, and terrorist conflicts. Fighting rationality with rationality may not produce the culturally and philosophically meaningful solutions that may be required. Here is where the wisdom of the ancients and tribal knowledge about how to live and the purposes and goals of life and nations may usefully enter into any discussion of where do we go from here.