The area is home to many Tŝilhqot’in people who were born near the lake. Tribal Chairman of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG) Joe Alphonse has said that the area is of profound cultural and spiritual importance: “As a child growing up, our dad used to take myself and my cousin Paul hunting there. Then later in life… that was an area that a lot of our people would go to do ceremony.”
Teztan Biny has unique cultural significance as a place of ceremony, healing, cultural teachings, ancestral grounds, hunting, trapping and gathering grounds.
Tsilhqot’in Nation occupies the territory from its current location south to the junction of the Chilcotin and Fraser Rivers. The Tsilhqot’in vision for the area is Dasiqox Tribal Park, a protected area open for all British Columbians to visit and enjoy. In their words, the Dasiqox Tribal Park is an expression of Tŝilhqot’in self-determination and a means of governing a land base that reflects the values of their people.
In the early 2000s, Taseko Mines proposed draining Teztan Biny and using it as a tailings pond for a huge open-pit copper and gold mine. The proposal was initially approved by the Province but then rejected in 2010 by the federal government as being too disruptive to Indigenous uses of the land and conservation.
Taseko’s next iteration of the project, New Prosperity, proposed building the tailings pond upstream from the lake. Taseko’s plan called for more than 360 trenches, a series of test pits, 122 drill sites and 48 kilometres of cleared trails and roads. This proposal was also rejected in 2014 by the federal government over concerns it would be too damaging to the environment and have unavoidable impacts on Tŝilhqot’in culture, heritage and rights.