Edward Thomas, President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, represents over 27,000 tribal members. The Central Council, under President Thomas, continues a more than decade-long history of support for Coeur Alaska and the Kensington Mine. During the construction phase, the project employed nearly 200 Alaska Natives or those affiliated with Alaska Native subsidiaries. A significant percentage of the people now employed in mine operations are Alaska Native, shareholders of Alaska Native corporations, or spouses of Alaska Natives.
The ancestral homeland of the Wooshkeetaan Clan of the Auke people, Berners Bay is known to the Tlingit as Daxanáak.
According to Tlingit protocol, the elders of the predominant clan speak in regards to such a place. The Wooshkeetaan clan elders are Al McKinley and Marie Olson, both of whom live in Juneau.
At one time there were two villages in Berners Bay: one between the Berners and Lace rivers, and another at the mouth of the Lace River. The villages are long gone, but in historical times the bay was heavily used for berry picking and salmon fishing. Several Tlingit families had smoke houses along the rivers. See Haa Aaní, Our Land (Sealaska Heritage Institute, 1998, p. 38).
For over four decades, hard rock mines were active in the bay, providing a source of work for Tlingits of the region.The present day Kensington Mine is built next to the historic Jualin Mine, and the access road follows the original roadbed to the mine site.