In July of 1976, at a First Annual Gathering of the Tahltan people, a collective decision was made to unite the people under a democratic system which would represent the interests of the Tahltan Nation, thus forming the Association of United Tahltans.
Tahltans at the meeting chose this system, and the constitution of the association was ratified.
Later in 1976, a comprehensive composite map was created and can be confirmed by the writing of early historians and anthropologists. Following the land piece, the structure of the association was formed to outline directors and executives.
In 1985, the Association of United Tahltans was renamed to the Tahltan Tribal Council (TTC). From 1990, the bands withdrew their support for the TTC and the organization dissolved from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2002, the TTC was reinstated and changed its name to the Tahltan Central Council (TCC).
The Tahltan Central Government (TCG)
The TCG is the central administrative governing body for the Iskut Band and Tahltan Band located in Telegraph Creek. It represents approximately 5000 members of the Tahltan Nation living on- and off-reserve.
The purpose of the TCG is, among other things, to define and protect Tahltan inherent aboriginal rights and title, to protect the eco-systems and natural resources of Tahltan traditional territory through pursuing sustainable economic development, and to strengthen the cultural wellness of the Tahltan Community by promoting traditional values based on the concepts of caring, sharing, cooperation, truth, honour, fairness and above all, respect. The board of the TCG is comprised of one representative from each of the ten Tahltan families; the executive consists of a Chairperson, Vice-Chair, and Secretary-Treasurer. The executive is elected, for two year terms, at the annual general assembly (AGA) held each summer; the family representatives are nominated by the families each year and elected/ratified at the AGM.
The guiding principle of the Tahltan Central Government remains the Declaration of the Tahltan Tribe. In 1910, as part of a growing movement to assert First Nations rights on the coast and the southern interior of BC, the chief of the Tahltan Nation, Chief Nanok along with 80 other members of the tribe signed the declaration. The document claims sovereignty over Tahltan land and declares any land interests concerning the traditional territory of the Tahltan Nation to be settled directly with the Tahltan people. It represents a legal declaration of rights of Tahltan individuals to the Canadian government and British monarch. Tahltans have yet to extinguish their Aboriginal title by any other legal process.
We, the undersigned members of the Tahltan tribe, speaking for ourselves, and our entire tribe, hereby make known to all whom it may concern, that we have heard of the Indian Rights movement among the Indian tribes of the Coast, and of the southern interior of B.C. Also we have read the declaration make by the chiefs of of the southern interior tribes at Spences Bridge of the 16th July last, and we hereby declare our complete agreement with the demands of the same, and wit the position taken by the said chiefs, and their people on all the questions stated in the said Declaration, and we furthermore make known that it is our desire and intention to join with them in the fight for our mutual rights, and that we will assist in the furtherance of this object in every way we can, until such time as all these matters of moment to us are finally unsettled. We further declare as follow:
- Firstly – We claim the sovereign right to all the country of our tribe – this country of ours which we have held intact from the encroachments of other tribes, from time immemorial, at the cost of our own blood. We have done this because our lives depended on our country. To lose it meant we would lose our means of living, and therefore our lives. We are still as heretofore, dependant for our living on our country, and we do not intend to give away the title to any part of same without adequate compensation. We deny the B.C. government has any title or right of ownership in our country. We have never treated with them nor given them any such title. (We have only lately learned the B.C. government make this claim, and that it has for long considered as it property all the territories of the Indian tribes of B.C.)
- Secondly – We desire that a part of our country, consisting of one or more large areas (to be selected by us), be retained by us for our own use, said lands, and all thereon to be acknowledged by the government as our absolute property. The rest of our tribal land we are willing to relinquish to the B.C. government for adequate compensation.
- Thirdly – We wish it known that a small portion of our lands at the mouth of the Tahltan River, was set apart a few years ago by Mr. Vowell as an Indian reservation. These few acres are the only reservation made for our tribe. We may state we never applied for the reservation of this piece of land, and we had no knowledge why the government set it apart for us, nor do we know exactly yet.
- Fourthly – We desire that all questions regarding our lands, hunting, fishing etc., and every matter concerning our welfare, be settled by treaty between us and the Dominion and B.C. government.
- Fifthly – We are of the opinion it will be better for ourselves, also better for the governments and all concerned, if these treaties are made with us at a very early date, so all friction, and misunderstanding between us and the whites may be avoided, for we hear lately much talk of white settlement in this region, and the building of railways, etc., in the near future.
Signed at Telegraph Creek, B.C., this eighteenth day of October, Nineteen hundred and ten, by
NANOK, Chief of the Tahltans,
NASTULTA, alias Little Jackson,
GEORGE ASSADZA, KENETI, alias Big Jackson
And eighty other members of the tribe.