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One Story...

Waterfall Creek and our family

by Ralph Stocker

 

Ralph Stocker, Tracey Moore, Towustasin Stocker, and Erika Stocker stand at the beginning of the mainline leading into Waterfall Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was born March 4, 1967 at the Queen Charlotte General Hospital. My father moved to Haida Gwaii from West Germany in 1961 and has been working for MacMillan Bloedel since April 2, 1962.

My mother is Haida of the Yak'u'laanaas, Masset Inlet Middle Town people whom are the descendants of Foam Woman, we originate from a reef at Bolkus Island, Gwaii Haanas and as Haida have occupied all of Haida Gwaii and southern Alaska.

I have two younger brothers Karl and Archie and two older sisters Katharina and Carol. We all grew up in the logging town of Port Clements. Life was grand, then Lyle Island became such a big concern to everyone, it was like the entire world revolved around this issue.

A short time later I began to have a serious look at what is taking place in the forests of Haida Gwaii.

Tracey Moore and I have been together since September 30, 1989. Tracey and our children Erika and Towustasin are of the Yak'u'Laanaas Clan, and so it is with great honour that I have been adopted by the Hereditary Chief Edenshaw Morris White of the Stastas Eagle Clan at his Grand Potlatch and Pole Raising held on October 28, 1995 at Old Massett.

We were created and have developed with Haida Gwaii, to be the caretakers of all that is here. We are instructed to deal with the plants, animals, minerals, human beings and all life as if they were a part of ourselves.

The way in which we interact with the earth, how we use the plants, animals, and the mineral gifts, should be carried out with the seventh generation in mind.

We cannot simply think of ourselves and our survival; each generation has a responsibility to ensure the survival for the seventh generation. Haida Gwaii and the surrounding seas are comprised entirely of traditional Haida family and clan-owned territories. We have sustained ourselves from all the natural resources by hunting, fishing, trapping, harvesting of wood, the gathering of food and medicines, using the spiritual training sites and burial sites.

There is a hereditary right and responsibility to manage these areas in the ways that our ancestors have so that we will have the same benefits from the land and live full enriched lives. And we shall continue on with our ways­to honour and respect our past, present, and future generations.

In 1951 the BC Government labelled the Clans traditional territories as traplines to be administered by the BC government as properties to be bought and sold.

The resources of Haida Gwaii have been under attack by the Colonial system of 'greed' for a short time, but in this short time they have managed to completely destroy almost every watershed and the integrity of the land that our people have kept in balance for thousands of years. All our cultural values are contained within these lands that are Haida Gwaii.

Alfred Davidson whose Haida name was Tok had passed the area around Waterfall Creek to my Grandfather. In 1989, after the death of my Grandfather, my Nonnie Adelia Adams passed down the ownership responsibilities of the traditional use area/trapline to my brothers Karl and Archie and me.

The area encompasses the height of land in the Datlamen River and Waterfall Creek watersheds, Towustasin Hill (the brother of Tow Hill) and the Begbie Peninsula.

TA-TLim-In River, also spelled Datlamen flows into the head of the west arm of Juskatla Inlet. TA-TLim-In is the Haida name of the mythological creek woman who is in charge of the river and watershed. The west arm of Juskatla Inlet is one of the deepest waters on the Islands at 600' deep.

Towustasin Hill

We named our son Towustasin Stocker. He is the little brother of Erika Stocker. According to our Haida stories Tow Hill used to live here with his big brother Towustasin.

Towustasin was the good natured brother who one day grew so weary of Tow's incessant and unfounded grumbling that the Chief of the Sea gave more fish to Towustasin than to Tow. Towustasin then decided to give Tow something to really complain about. That afternoon when Tow was napping, Towustasin set to and ate up every scrap of food he could find, not leaving behind as much as a scale for Tow.

In a towering rage Tow took off in a northerly direction to the sea, eventually following the North Beach to the mouth of the Hiellen River where he made his home. Towustasin remained in Juskatla, grateful for his peace.

 

Ralph Stocker shows daughter Erika a test hole near Waterfall Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

Erika's Mountain

In our family Erika is the big sister to Towustasin. Erika's Mountain, formerly known as Mount Begbie­Mount Begbie bore the name of the last hanging Judge in BC and was given in 1948 to the 2,165 foot mountain lying in the centre of the peninsula separating Juskatla Inlet's west arm from Shannon Bay. The peninsula was actively used by the Haida with much evidence of traditional manufacturing with wood.

Going to the land

In the Spring of 1989, Kevin Ryland, James Lewis, Karl Stocker and I walked the TA-TLim-In River up to the top of the alpine to a location overlooking Tartu Inlet which is situated on the West Coast. We could see for hundreds of miles and there was not a cloud in sight, nor a breath of wind. The next day we walked down into Tartu Inlet and took the entire Husby contract logging camp by surprise. They could hardly believe that we had come over the mountains from Juskatla Inlet. They offered us meals and a cabin to sleep in for the night.

While we were in camp the loggers told us about a 24' diameter Spruce that had to be cut into small pieces to be shipped out, and they were moving into cut down more cathedrals of huge Spruce. They told us they felt that the trees should be left alone as monuments.

The next day we hiked back to the TA-TLim-In where MacMillan Bloedel was busy building road. Over the next few years MB logged the east side of the valley cutting some the finest trees on earth. MB logged for seven years straight, sometimes they worked seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Today, despite the new rules and regulations on logging practices in BC, MB is still logging the TA-TLim-In 800 cutblock which is 211 hectares in size and will create a clearcut of over 1200 hectares. The east side of the valley is now a clearcut from the top of the mountains down to the banks of the river.

MB only jeered at me, telling me that there was not a thing I could do legally to address their logging practices on my sacred land­everything they are doing is legal under the BC governments approval.

When I walk in Waterfall Creek and along the TA-TLim-In I feel what it is like to be a Haida person who is trying to keep alive the honour and responsibility as caretaker of this place. I have been given the responsibility to ensure that the balance of nature is not upset and that there is no harm being done to the integrity of the land. I take this responsibility seriously. Today I go there to ask forgiveness for not stopping them.

I am told that Haida Gwaii has always been the responsibility of the Haida people to manage. Our ancestors managed this land in an absolutely sustainable manner, ensuring future generations would not have to suffer a terrible fate. It is that way of life that needs to be uncovered and implemented into our lives today.

My family and I are working towards living closer to ourselves as human beings and respecting the living and non-living entities of this mother earth. We are working at finding a balance in life that is comfortable to us all, and that will allow us to be food gatherers, medicine makers, tree farmers, woodworkers, artists, Nation builders, and dreamers.

I have had to learn everything on my own, I was not fortunate enough to be raised with my elders, but I am ancient, as are my feelings for Haida Gwaii. Our blood ties us to this land and we are inseparable.

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