This photograph was taken near the peak of the centerpiece of Tahltan traditional lands, Mount Edziza, a place as beautiful as it is isolated. Even today it can only be reached after three days by horseback. The cross is that of my great-uncle, who died in the early 20th century while hunting.
It was a privilege for me to visit Mount Edziza plateau, because many, including Tahltan people, will never have such an opportunity, despite the central role the Mountain plays in Tahltan history and culture. I made this trip when I was 16, therefore the knowledge and experience that I gained allowed me solidify my identity, beliefs, and values, within a Tahltan framework. I learned what it is to be Tahltan. This image portrays an era when people lived, hunted, worshiped, and died on this land.
The setting of this picture is significant. Mount Edziza plateau, the heart of the Tahltan nation, provided the obsidian Tahltan people traded across the America’s, and an abundance of wildlife to hunt, especially caribou. The Stikine River, lifeblood of the Tahltan nation, rages through the plateau several miles north of the peak. Mount Edziza is today, unchanged; a reminder of times past. It is a solitary stand of the spirituality, history, and beauty of Tahltan culture. It has survived colonization and industry. It must be preserved at all costs.
This photograph is tangible proof of the traditional life my ancestors lived. The cross is a visual marker of a Tahltan body, laid to rest on Tahltan land, after living a Tahltan life. The windswept clouds show a spirit, at home and set free where it belongs.
This image is unique because it grounds me in my history and my culture. It reminds me to remember my homeland, When my time comes I hope my spirit will find its way to Mount Edziza, where I will join my ancestors.