The Vancouver Sun | June 24, 2016
A First Nation asserting control over its court-awarded title lands in the Chilcotin will be posting uniformed rangers at key access points to its territory this summer.
Tourists are welcome to visit the Nemiah Valley, provided that they don’t hunt or carry firearms, and that they follow the same provincial laws that apply elsewhere to safe and ethical travel in the wilderness, said Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in (honey gwe-teen).
That includes obeying campfire regulations, having a valid fishing licence, and not tearing up the wilderness with motorized vehicles. Tourists can continue to camp at provincial recreation sites during a five-year transition period, he said.
“You can come to experience the title lands as long as you obey (applicable laws of the wilderness),” he said. “As long as they follow that, we’re good.”
The rangers will work with provincial conservation officers to deal with any violations.
Tourists headed for the Nemiah Valley, about a three-hour drive southwest of Williams Lake, will be greeted by rangers during day hours, seven days a week, at three main access points — Davidson Bridge over the Taseko River, Henry’s Crossing on the north end of the Chilko River, and the Tatlayoko Lake Road-Chilko Lake Road junction.
Rangers will not issue permits, but will educate visitors about aboriginal title rights in the region and how they should behave.
On June 26, 2014, William, on behalf of the Xeni Gwet’in and the Tsilhqot’in (sill-co-teen) First Nation, won a Supreme Court of Canada decision unanimously recognizing title to about 1,750 square kilometres of Crown land and aboriginal rights across the larger region.
The Xeni Gwet’in is one of six First Nations comprising about 3,000 Tsilhqot’in people. The Nemiah Valley is located on a gravel road off Highway 20, the main route through the Chilcotin to Bella Coola on the coast.