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THE GRIZZLY: A TREATY OF COOPERATION,
CULTURAL REVITALIZATION AND RESTORATION
RELATIONSHIP TO THE GRIZZLY
Since time immemorial, hundreds of generations of the first peoples of the FIRST NATIONS of North America have come and gone since before and after the melting of the glaciers that covered North America. For all those generations the GRIZZLY has been our ancestor, our relative. The GRIZZLY is part of us and WE are part of the GRIZZLY culturally, spiritually and ceremonially. Our ancient relationship is so close and so embodied in us that the GRIZZLY is the spirit of our holistic eco-cultural life-ways.
PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVE OF THE TREATY
To honor, recognize, and revitalize the ancient relationship we have with the GRIZZLY, it is the collective intention of WE, the undersigned NATIONS, to welcome the GRIZZLY to once again live beside us as CREATOR intended and to restore the balance where WE are the stewards and GRIZZLY is the guardian of our lands. WE will do everything within our means so that with GRIZZLY, WE will once again live in the sacred cycle of reciprocity to nurture each other culturally and spiritually. It is our collective intention to recognize the GRIZZLY as an umbrella species, central to the ecological system; and to provide a safe space and environment across our historic homelands we once shared with the GRIZZLY where biologically suitable habitat still exists in the United States and Canada, so together WE can have our grandparent, the GRIZZLY, guide us in nurturing our land, plants and the other two-legged, four-legged and winged beings to once again realize the GRIZZLY MEDICINE WAYS for our future generations and recognize that OUR DRUMBEAT IS THE HEARTBEAT OF THE GRIZZLY. In our collective NATIONS’ efforts to protect and preserve the GRIZZLY – and by doing so protect, preserve and perpetuate indigenous cultures – this treaty is analogous to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
PARTIES TO THE TREATY
WE, the undersigned, including the PIIKANI NATION and TRIBAL NATIONS from the four sacred directions of TURTLE ISLAND.
ARTICLE 1 – CONSERVATION
Recognizing the GRIZZLY as a practitioner of conservation, WE, collectively, recognize that our ancestors were conservationists before the term existed in the Western lexicon, and that in their honor we agree to perpetuate their principals of caring for Mother Earth that is today called conservation. Fundamental to that is respecting the interrelationships between us and “all our relations” including animals, plants and all living and growing things that are shapes, as are WE, of Mother Earth. WE commit to perpetuate and continue our spiritual ceremonies, sacred societies, sacred languages and sacred bundles in which the GRIZZLY has a unique place, and to perpetuate and practice as a means to embody the thoughts and beliefs of ecological balance.
ARTICLE II – CULTURE
Realizing the GRIZZLY is a foundation of our traditional ways, WE, collectively, agree to perpetuate all aspects of our respective cultures related to the GRIZZLY including customs, practices, healing and curing rituals, naming, beliefs, songs, and ceremonies.
ARTICLE III – ECONOMICS
Recognizing the GRIZZLY as a traditional teacher and guardian of our lands and people, We, collectively, agree to pursue economic development revolving around the GRIZZLY in an environmentally and culturally compatible manner, including eco-tourism models with grizzly watching, photography and culturally oriented educational tourism, traditional crafts, publishing and literacy materials inspired by traditional narratives to which the GRIZZLY is central, and other beneficial by-products arising out of GRIZZLY’s gifts to us.
ARTICLE IV – HEALTH
Taking into consideration all the social and health benefits the GRIZZLY has shared with our people for millennia, WE, collectively, agree to follow and develop the traditional GRIZZLY BEAR MEDICINE TEACHINGS that introduced our ancestors to our first healing and curing practices.
ARTICLE V – EDUCATION
Recognizing and continuing to embody all the teachings we have received from the GRIZZLY, WE, collectively, agree to develop programs revolving around GRIZZLY as a means of transferring intergenerational knowledge to the younger and future generations and sharing knowledge amongst our respective NATIONS.
ARTICLE VI – HUNTING
Understanding that the GRIZZLY is an ancestor, a grandparent, and a relative, no hunting of the GRIZZLY – be that categorized as sport or trophy hunting – will be permitted or licensed on any lands our NATIONS hold jurisdiction over. The GRIZZLY will enjoy full protections on all tribal lands.
ARTICLE VII – MANAGEMENT
Recognizing that our collective objective is to see the GRIZZLY returned to areas of biologically suitable habitat on tribal lands within the GRIZZLY’s historic range pre-colonial contact, and for linkage zones to be established between the existing, fragmented populations, GRIZZLY management plans for our NATIONS will be formulated from a cultural foundation, while accommodating the “best available science.” WE, collectively, recognize that our ancestors practiced the “best available science” in their stewardship of the land, as they lived in balance with our Mother Earth when the biomass was at its height. Our NATIONS will not adopt state, provincial or federal plans, as all are infringements of our sovereignty. WE, collectively, will formulate vocational and educational programs for our people, so that on our lands, they will be the leaders of our culturally compatible GRIZZLY management programs. Upon the signing of this TREATY, any management removal of a GRIZZLY will be undertaken with ceremony, and such parts of the GRIZZLY that have always been kept in sacred bundles or used for traditional healing practices will be provided to such persons qualified. No GRIZZLY will be removed from the population before all other options have been exhausted.
ARTICLE VIII – RESEARCH
Recognizing that learning is a life-long process, WE, collectively, agree to perpetuate knowledge-gathering and knowledge-sharing according to our customs and inherent authorities revolving around the GRIZZLY that do not violate our traditional ethical standards as a means to expand our knowledge base regarding the environment, wildlife, plant life, water, and the role GRIZZLY played in the history, spiritual, economic, and social life of our NATIONS. WE, collectively, agree to consult with the leading, independent biologists qualified in the study of the GRIZZLY to ensure that our NATIONS continue to lead in the preservation and recovery of the GRIZZLY.
ARTICLE IX –THREATS
THE CROWN OF THE CONTINENT
WE, collectively, recognize that the GRIZZLY in the Crown of the Continent is threatened, as are the grizzly bears attempting to live in arterial habitats connecting with populations elsewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Only a limited portion of the Crown of the Continent is productive enough and safe enough to produce grizzly bears in excess of the numbers that die. These favored areas include Glacier and Waterton National Parks, the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River, and western portions of the Blackfeet Reservation. Most other areas, including central and southern portions of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the East Front, and portions of the Flathead Valley, produce lethal human interactions that kill grizzly bears at a greater rate than they can reproduce. In addition, the GRIZZLY in the Crown of the Continent has suffered from devastating environmental changes. On the west side, a 15-year berry famine lasted from 1996 through 2010. Between 1985 and 2012 some 25% of GRIZZLY habitat in the United States burned, including around 40% of core GRIZZLY distribution. Many of these burns have come back as unproductive habitats, including dog hair regeneration of lodgepole pine. Between the 1970s and 2012, most mature whitebark pine in the Crown was killed by white pine blister rust. Human populations in the Flathead and Swan Valleys have concurrently exploded. Not surprisingly, grizzly bear deaths increased between the early 1990s and early 2010s by 2-10 times as much as any plausible increase in population size. WE, collectively, recognize that the GRIZZLY is seeking habitats on the plains and elsewhere not because of increasing numbers, but because of the need to find new food sources.
All evidence indicates that the GRIZZLY population in Greater Yellowstone has been stationary since the early part of the twenty-first century, and repopulation of historic range is due to GRIZZLY seeking alternative foods. The catastrophic loss of GRIZZLY’s dietary staples in this region, including whitebark pine, which has been reduced by some 85%, and cutthroat throat, are well documented. One of GRIZZLY’s remaining protein-rich food sources, the army cutworm moth, is vulnerable to climate change and pesticides. If as a result of wasting disease or otherwise the region’s elk population suffers significant reduction the impact on GRIZZLY would be similarly devastating. A greater reliance on meat for survival increases the potential for conflicts. No alternative food sources exist in this ecosystem that provide caloric equivalency to those that are rapidly disappearing. GRIZZLY in Greater Yellowstone is an island population, genetically isolated, and with no present opportunity to establish critical linkage zones with the Crown of the Continent population. An island population is forever a threatened population.
THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
In common with those in the Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone, the GRIZZLY in the Great Bear Rainforest faces significant threats from climate change, including deforestation and declining salmon runs. GRIZZLIES are abandoning areas where they were once supposed to be abundant, and seeking sustenance on islands where they have never been seen before. As salmon stocks dwindle, the GRIZZLY is searching for alternative food sources, and consequently having fewer cubs, replicating the pernicious cycle in Yellowstone and the Crown. The GRIZZLY population in the Great Bear Rainforest is unknown, but irrespective, in contravention of ordinances passed by the Coastal First Nations, authorities issue batches of trophy hunting tags every year based only on population guesstimates. GRIZZLIES are commonly spotted from planes, chased down in boats, or shot as they walk by camouflaged blinds. They are hunted in the fall when they come down to feed on salmon, and then hunted in the spring when they emerge from hibernation. There are no rules against trophy hunting mothers, and a third of the GRIZZLIES killed in BC are female.
GRIZZLY has been an integral part of human culture since time before memory, and factors into the songs, dances, and crests of every First Nation on the coast. GRIZZLY is more than a neighbor; in many families, GRIZZLIES are considered relatives, because bears move fluidly between the worlds in First Nations oral histories, transforming into people, and even marrying humans. GRIZZLY is a teacher, healer, and protector. Killing a GRIZZLY for no reason represents a grave breach of protocol and traditional law.
As the original stewards of this land, our NATIONS commit to act to aid our sacred relative, the GRIZZLY.
ARTICLE X – CONFLICT REDUCTIONS
Following the precedent set by some of our sister NATIONS, WE, collectively, recognize the need to establish seasonal closures to areas that offer the GRIZZLY sensitive habitat, be that for food gathering, reproduction, or the rearing of young. In the spirit of our ancestors, WE will introduce culturally compatible conflict reduction programs on our NATIONS, that are inclusive and educational, and reconnect our people with GRIZZLY and traditional precepts of tribal society and responsibility.
ARTICLE XI – ADHESIONS
North American Tribes and First Nations, and NATIONS, STATES, AND PROVINCES may become signatories to this treaty providing they agree to the terms of this treaty.
ARTICLE XII – PARTNERSHIPS AND SUPPORTERS
WE, collectively, seek to be true partners with federal authorities in the reintroduction and future management of the GRIZZLY, in a relationship of reciprocity and equality. WE, collectively, invite Non-Governmental Organizations, Corporations and others of the business and commercial community, to form partnerships with the signatories to bring about the manifestation of the intent of this treaty. Organizations and individuals may become signatories to this treaty as partners and supporters providing they perpetuate the spirit and intent of this treaty.
ARTICLE XIII – AMENDMENTS
This treaty may be amended from time-to-time by a simple majority of the signatories.