By Mark Hume
The Doig River band, population 249, has declared they are establishing a 90,000 hectare “tribal park” spanning their traditional territory in northeast British Columbia and northwest Alberta.
K’ih tsaa?dze as the park is called (it means “old spruce” in the Dane-za language) crosses the provincial boundary in an area that is rich in both petroleum and forest resources. But the Doig say it is also a place to hunt, fish and go for spiritual renewal–and they have drawn a clear line around what is important to them.
A tribal park might not exist legally, but as the Tla-o-qui-aht showed in 1984 when they established one in Clayoquot Sound, they can have a reality all their own. That park was to protect Meares Island from logging and 27 years later it is still doing just that. The island sits just off Tofino, where its old growth forest provides a stunning backdrop for a small town that thrives on tourism.