May 15, 2011
Chickaloon Native Village and its governing body the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council (CVTC) filed a complaint against Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. (UCM) and Electric Power Development Co., Ltd (JPower) last week with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international multi-country organization.
The OECD was established in 1947 to promote economic cooperation in an economically ravaged Europe after World War II. It expanded its activities with an international convention in 1960. Canada and the United States became early parties to the OECD Convention and Japan joined in 1961. It has 34 members from all regions of the world.
OECD activity includes promoting sustainable development and ethical practices in the activities of its members’ multi-national corporations. OECD adopted Guidelines for Multi-National Enterprises, establishing basic components of responsible corporate conduct.
These guidelines cover a range of issues such as labor and human rights, bribery and corruption, environment and information disclosure, and a complaints procedure.
CVTC’s complaint under the guidelines addresses Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM) activities at Wishbone Hill, ancestral lands of the Athabascan Ahtna Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. Allegations include UCM’s exploratory activity late last year based on permit application information more than 20 years old, not taking into account the dramatic increases in population of the area in recent years, and that pursuant to these stale and misleading permits, UCM built a coal hauling road 100 yards from CVTC’s Tribal school, Ya Ne Dah Ah School, prompting safety concerns that were also not considered.
Chief Gary Harrison said, “For years now, with financial and technical help from federal agencies and other partners, we’ve invested over $1,000,000 and thousands of man-hours of effort on fish passage and salmon population restoration on Moose Creek, ruined by World War I coal mining. Our efforts received substantial funding and won national awards from the U.S. Federal Government. Now they want to destroy it all over again.”
CVTC Tribal citizen Kari Shaginoff voiced additional Tribal concerns: “Wishbone Hill and surrounding lands, rivers and streams are sacred to us. Their bounty is essential to our Potlatch ceremonies and spiritual lives. The Alaska Constitution and international human rights treaties recognize our religious and spiritual connections to land and its resources.
Rights that Alaska and U.S. are supposed to protect are in real danger from coal mining.”
For more information contact Penny Westing, CVTC, (907) 745-0794, Alberto Saldamando, General Counsel of International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), (415) 641-4482, or Geoffrey Stauffer, a local attorney, (907) 868-1859.