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Implications of Tenure Insecurity for Aboriginal Land Use in Canada

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Natcher, D.C., Hickey, C.G., Nelson, M. & Davis, S.
  • Journal Name: Human organization
  • Journal Number: Vol.68, No.3
  • Publisher: Society of Applied Anthropology
  • Published Location: Washington, United States
  • Country: Canada

In Canada, Aboriginal peoples are succeeding at regaining portions of their traditional land base. Accomplished through the signing of historic treaties and the negotiation of comprehensive land claims agreements, nearly seven percent of Canada's entire land base is now under the administrative authority of Aboriginal governments. Notwithstanding these accomplishments, it remains unclear whether such territorial gains coincide with a heightened sense of tenure security. Together with the Little Red River Cree Nation of Alberta and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation of the Yukon Territory, we set out to learn how First Nation members perceive their access to traditional lands to be changing over time and by generation. Findings indicate that despite various tenure reforms, First Nation members remain concerned that their traditional territories are susceptible to the interests of others. Given that perceptions of tenure security informs the basis by which people exploit resources, these conditions could potentially intensify into conflict with those who are seen as benefiting at the expense of First Nation members and propagate behaviors yielding higher short-term benefits leading to the over-exploitation of natural resources. While grounded in two Canadian case studies, the findings of this research have broad implications for other countries that are using treaties and other modern forms of agreement making to restructure land tenure arrangements with Aboriginal peoples.

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