In a rugged knot of mountains in northern British Columbia lies a spectacular valley known to the First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, three of Canada's most important salmon rivers – the Stikine, the Skeena, and the Nass – are born in close proximity. Now, against the wishes of all First Nations, the British Columbia government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. Imperial Metals proposes an open-pit copper and gold mine, called the Red Chris mine, and Royal Dutch Shell wants to extract coal bed methane gas across a tenure of close to a million acres.
In The Sacred Headwaters, a collection of photographs by Carr Clifton and members of the International League of Conservation Photographers – including Claudio Contreras, Paul Colangelo, and Wade Davis – portray the splendour of the region. These photographs are supplemented by images from other professionals who have worked here, including Sarah Leen of the National Geographic.
The compelling text by Wade Davis, which describes the region's beauty, the threats to it, and the response of native groups and other inhabitants, is complemented by the voices of the Tahltan elders. The inescapable message is that no amount of methane gas can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that could be the Sacred Headwaters of all Canadians and indeed of all peoples of the world.
Wade Davis is Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and is the author of numerous books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow and One River. He has lived and worked in the Stikine as a park ranger, guide, and anthropologist since 1978. He and his wife, Gail, own Wolf Creek Lodge, the closest private holding to both the Sacred Headwaters and the proposed site of the Red Chris mine.
"Splayed next to southern Alaska, Canada's Sacred Headwaters region is a vast panorama of mountains, salmon rivers and canyons criss-crossed with the trails of caribou, grizzlies and mountain goats [...] as anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis explains, it could become a war zone. Corporations are queuing up to develop the region [...] Carr Clifton's haunting photographs evoke what's at stake."
- Nature Magazine
"This visual feast and compelling text describes the Sacred Headwaters – where the Stikine, Skeena and Nass meet – which is under threat from industrial development and gas extraction. Stunning photographs from the International League of Conservation Photographers and National Geographic contributors provide an inescapable message of the importance of the area for Canadians and all peoples of the world."
- Vancouver Sun