First Nations - Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia

View from Mission Mountain south. To the right is Sk'ákit7 (Seton Portage), the trailhead to Slala'xen. Photo: Karen Wonders


Slala'xen Guardian William Terry Sr., Tsal'álh from Lh7us.
Photo: Western Canada Wilderness Committee

In 2005, without consulting the St'át'imc, the BC government approved the logging of Slala'xen by BC Timber Sales. This decision disregards St'át'imc Land and Resource Authority which designates Slala'xen a "Protection Area" for conserving cultural values, ancient forests, grizzly bears, mountain goats, spotted owls, deer and water. Industrial development (road building, logging, mining) is prohibited.



The 10,000 hectare Slala'xen (Lost Valley) is the largest unlogged watershed in the Cayoosh Range. Slala'xen provides valuable wildlife habitat for a wide range of species in the Cayoosh Mountain Range and contains remarkable and rare pockets of old growth rainforests. An ancient St'át'imc trail exists through the 20 km long valley and along it can be seen many culturally modified trees (left). These aboriginal bark and wood harvesting cedar trees have been used for generations and are important territorial markers. Until now, Slala'xen has survived untouched by clearcut logging due to its unaccessible location.

Slala'xen/Sutikalh (red). St'át'imc Territory (black).
Map: WCWC (Click to enlarge)

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Slala'xen, a pristine - never logged - valley.
Photo: Western Canada Wilderness Committee

B. J. Alexander (right) is a Tsal'álh from the ancient village of Sk'ákit7, located near the trailhead of Slala'xen. St'át'imc elders describe Slala'xen as "one of the hunting grounds. An Honored place (sacred) that was only accessible through treacherous terrain in the creek valley from the creek's mouth where it drains into the lake. The head waters of the creek was a basin where the hunting was good. The St'át'imc of D'Arcy and of Seton and Tsalalh hunt there to this day ... " translated from St'át'imc by C. P. Alexander. Click to continue reading: Slala'xen.


"BC Timber Sales is the logging operation that wants to log Lost Valley. St'át'imc people that have hiked through Lost Valley in the past several years report seeing BC Timber Sales survey flagging, which mark out cutblock boundaries and road locations throughout the watershed. BC Timber Sales is fully owned and operated by the government of BC" and "is the worst logging operation in BC" Wilderness Committee.

Slala'xen Guardian B. J. Alexander, Tsal'álh.
Photo: Karen Wonders

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Mike Alexander, Ed Oleman and Sonny Napolean.
Photo: Karen Wonders


Tsal'álh Chief Garry John plans to protect the old growth biodiversity of Slala'xen and at the same time encourage sustainable tourism ventures for the local community based on respect for traditional indigenous knowledge:

"It is critically important to preserve areas like Lost Valley because the heritage features and archaeological values that exist there really are a symbol of our lands and evidence of our presence on those lands for the past several thousand years." See Chief Garry John and other St'át'imc defenders of Slala'xen in the Tsal'álh and WCWC produced video "Save Lost Valley." St'át'imc plans for small scale, sustainable tourism ventures include traditional hiking trails for those interested in local culture and ecology, a small marina and canoe rentals.

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Traditional trails between Slala'xen and Sutikalh are being reopened by St'át'imc trail blazers (above) and landmarks such as cache pits and culturally modified trees are being rediscovered. The Cayoosh Mountain Range supports one of the highest density of mountain goat populations in North America. About 100 goats are believed to live on the high alpine slopes between Slala'xen and Sutikalh.

St'át'imc youth, survival training, Slala'xen, 2001.
Photo: Carol Thevarge


Mountain goat in St'át'imc Territory.
Photo: District of Lillooet

In 2001, a group of St'át'imc youth (left) visited Slala'xen: "It took us 13 hours to hike in with their own packs of 18 to 25 lbs each. We stayed for four days and picked wild potatoes, onions and other natural plant life. As well we hunted marmot to eat" (Yiktsa, N'quatqua).

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Copyright: All Rights Reserved. Researched, written, compiled, formatted, hyperlinked and encoded by Dr. Karen Wonders. Images and intellectual property rights reside with the credited owner. Commercial transmission and/or reproduction requires written permission. Use for educational and research purposes requires proper citation.