The areas in these journeys are on the western side of the headwaters of three great rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and Nass. The lands described in ‘edziza trip’ and ‘crossing cold streams’ are part of the interlocking plateuax of north-western British Columbia that the Tahltan people call the Klabona. These watersheds have been stewarded by sometimes overlapping communities of Tahltan, Wet’sutwet’en and other Carrier Sekani with some traditional presence of Nisga’a, Tlinglit, and Tsimshian communities. All five cultures have had interactions in this high country. For example, Mr. Loveman Nole of Telegraph Creek on the lower Stikine, hunted, trapped and guided extensively in the Edziza – Spatsizi areas and recently mentioned working at Bulkley Lake just below the north end of the Edziza Plateau. (2011 SAMAQAN Water Stories: Episode 9 Sacred Headwaters).
The ‘wilderness’ portrayed in in these photographs are entirely cultural landscapes and the product of the traditional knowledge of these cultures. Throughout the modern period, the Tahltan Nation been active in protecting, guiding in, and learning from Edziza Plateau with the Wet’sutwet’en and possibly other Carrier communities still engaged in traditional burning in some of the eastern valleys of Spatsizi as late as 1981.
I travelled through these areas as a person actively engaged in my Métis heritage. But while my mother was born in the Yukon, I was welcomed to and learned about Edziza and Spatsizi only as a guest. Nearly all of the images from ‘crossing cold streams’ in 1978 and 1981 are of places within or near Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park. Nearly all of the images from ‘crossing cold streams’ in 1980 are of places within Mount Edziza Provincial Park. While these vast areas are nominally managed by the Province of British Columbia, they are part of unceded territories of the Tahltan Nation with eastern margins part of the traditional lands of the Caribou Hide people of the Sekanis.