The Nondalton Tribal Council came out in direct opposition to the Groundhog Gold/Copper Project on Groundhog Mountain on Tuesday. But, instead of coming out against an outside corporation, the tribal council of the small community came out against their own Native Corporation, Kijik Corp.
According to a release from the tribal council of Nondalton, which is located along the western shores of Six-Mile Lake between Iliamna and Lake Clark, the Kijik Corporation is taking part in a joint-venture with Alaska Earth Sciences to open up the mining project on Groundhog mountain near the community. Groundhog mountain is the community’s primary hunting area for moose and caribou, and according to the council is considered sacred.
In their statement, the tribe called the move by Kijik, “a slap in the face,” saying, that Kijik “acknowledged that our land, our culture, and our resources are our most important assets. Given this acknowledgement, we do not understand how they could partner with a mining company that could destroy this area.”
The tribe said that the community members had publicly voiced their opposition to the corporation over the proposed mining project, and pointed out “We don’t want harm to come to our land and water in any way, shape or form. This is the foundation to our way of life and culture.”
The tribe has worked for the past seven years putting together an Integrated Resource Management Plan documenting the land’s resources, hunting and burial grounds around Lake Clark, Six-Mile and the Chulitna River. The Kijik Corporation attended meetings discussing the documentation and the tribe said the corporation acknowledged the importance of the assets. Given that, the tribe said they do not understand why the corporation would partner with the mining company.
The Nondalton Tribal Council pointed out that their members are also members of the corporation, and want to work with them but said, “we don’t understand why this decision was made without getting input and feedback from the shareholders first…It is hard to believe our village corporation would make a decision to partner with a mining company when they know how hard we have worked to NOT have mining in our area. “
In support of the Nondalton Tribal Council, the United Tribes of Bristol Bay released a statement saying:
“The United Tribes of Bristol Bay fully supports the Nondalton Tribal Council’s opposition to the Groundhog Mountain project advanced by the Kijik Corporation and Alaska Earth Sciences,” said UTBB President Robert Heyano. “Over the last decade our Tribes have fought tirelessly to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from this exact type of destructive hard-rock mining in order to protect our lands, waters, and cultures. We stand with the Nondalton Tribal Council to put a stop to this proposed mining district we are facing, with Groundhog being just one of over 17 large-scale mining proposals in the region. We will continue to seek protections for our communities as we face continued threats to our salmon and way of life from destructive mining projects like Groundhog.”
The Tribal Council reports that the caribou and moose are beginning to come back with the cessation of activities in the Pebble Mine area and reduced helicopter traffic. Nondalton is adjacent to the Pebble Mine area.