On June 7, representatives from the Department of State, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Geological Survey met with Council members from the six governments of the transboundary Ktunaxa Nation, including the four Ktunaxa First Nation Governments of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it First Nation (Tobacco Plains), ʔakisq̓nuk̓ First Nation, Yaqan Nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay) and ʔaq̓am, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, to discuss addressing pollution from mining in British Columbia that affects the United States and Canada.
The meeting underscored the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening Nation-to-Nation relationships by listening to Tribal priorities and respecting Tribal sovereignty. During the meeting, the Department reaffirmed the Administration’s support for a joint reference to the International Joint Commission (IJC) under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 for the Kootenai Basin regarding the transboundary impacts of mining. A joint reference would respond to the need for impartial recommendations and transparent communication, build trust, and forge a common understanding of this issue among local, Indigenous, state, provincial, and federal governments as well as stakeholders and the public in both countries.
Support for a joint IJC reference reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protect public health; conserve our lands, waters, and biodiversity; and deliver environmental justice to communities overburdened by pollution.