Natl Geographic: Innu Nation settles claims over dam flooding

"This month, Elizabeth Penashue will leave her home in the Innu village of Sheshatshiu, just as she has the past 14 summers, to canoe up the Churchill River—a waterway that has been a wellspring of both life and pain for her people.

The 67-year-old Innu elder will take a group with her, and teach them about the longest river in Atlantic Canada's northernmost region of Labrador, and how she grew up trapping, hunting, and camping along its now-altered banks. It was a nomadic life—and as she recalls, an idyllic one—that changed utterly when the hydroelectric plant came.

Now, she will tell her fellow paddlers, the Churchill River is to be changed again.

But this time, when the water is tapped anew for energy, the Innu will be part of the deal. The "New Dawn Agreement," approved overwhelmingly by the tribe this summer, seeks to compensate the Innu First Nation for the first time for the flooding of 2,000 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) of native hunting grounds in the late 1960s to feed Churchill Falls, the second-largest hydroelectric plant in Canada. The deal also clears the way for the $6.2 billion ($6.1 billion U.S.) construction of two new hydro stations and transmission lines on the lower Churchill, a project its developers say will mine the most attractive undeveloped hydroelectric site in North America."

Get the Story:
Innu Nation Deal Trades Reparation for River Power (National Geographic News 8/24)

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