XIX. Indigenous Resource Management and Sovereignty in Western North America

Session Date and Time: 
Friday, 10 May 2019 - 10:30am to 3:00pm
Barnett Hall (Music Bldg)
Session Organizer(s): 
Chelsey Geralda Armstrong
- cdageralda@gmail.com
Natasha Lyons

Anthropogenic landscapes created and managed by Indigenous Peoples were once a common feature of many regions of North America and today are being rediscovered, restored, and re-used by Indigenous communities (and their allies and partners) to their own ends. In this session, we ask contributors to share their visions of the relationship between Indigenous Resource Management and sovereignty throughout Western North America. Case studies might explore how Indigenous Resource Management policies and practices are being codified by Indigenous governments (and other traditional, tribal and cultural bodies); what ecosystems and species are chosen and why; what types of land-based resurgence are being pursued by communities who are land-poor due to colonial processes; and, how these various pursuits are negotiated with different levels of settler governments, outside researchers, internal governance structures, culture and resistance camps (etc)? Finally, how are ecosystems and species restorations planned and/or carried out in practice? For instance, what does it take to restore a clam garden, a high elevation berry patch, a forest garden, or an anthropogenic prairie? What roles do respective partners play? How is success measured? What are some of outcomes in the social, ecological, economic, political and/or spiritual context of community? We invite responses in a range of media, lenses and story-telling styles.

Time Abstract
, Iain - University of Victoria and Hakai Institute
, Jacob - University of Victoria
, Spencer - University of Washington and Santa Fe Institute

Northwest Coast Indigenous people’s knowledge of coastal environments has been a focus of anthropological, archaeological and ethnobiological research for over a century. Such efforts however are rarely synthesized and reconciled across marine and terrestrial ecosystems and alongside archaeological data. This presentation compiles existing ethnographically documented plant and animal taxa among Nuu-chah-nulth and Makah peoples on western Vancouver Island (Canada) and Washington State (USA). Our observations document a very wide range of cultural uses for marine and terrestrial taxa, and a proportionally dominant use of terrestrial plants. We present visualizations of relationships between humans use of plants, particularly western redcedar (Thuja plicata), and a wide array of marine animal harvesting practices. These relationships are then plotted alongside archaeological location data from 50,000 CMTs and 2,000 coastal settlements. We interpret this combination of ethnobiological and archaeological data as an example of a long-term reliance of coastal communities on terrestrial rainforests.

, Lindsey - Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) are “People of the Inlet,” and have occupied the lands and waters surrounding Burrard Inlet since time out of mind. Many Tsleil-Waututh villages once existed along the shores, and Tsleil-Waututh people were sustained for millennia from the bountiful marine resources. Over the past 240 years, colonial industrial development has had a harmful affect on the health of the inlet and the ability of TWN to practice cultural activities and harvest traditional foods. TWN holds a sacred obligation and responsibility to be Stewards of their lands, waters and resources. TWN Stewardship initiatives aim to protect and restore the health of Burrard Inlet so that Tsleil-Waututh people can once again harvest wild marine foods, and practice cultural and ceremonial activities in clean water. TWN is a leader in combining Indigenous science and values with western science, and in finding creative solutions to advance TWN Stewardship initiatives.

, Christina - Kitsumkalum First Nation

Kitsumkalum-Gits’mk’eelm (People of the Plateau) is a Tsimshian village of about 700 members located 6km west of Terrace BC at the confluence of the Skeena and Kalum River. It is a matrilineal exogamous chieftainship society that has been greatly affected by Colonial intervention. Potlatch practice, culture, traditions, and harvest of resources were interrupted. Efforts to revitalize practices have been ongoing since the early 1980s. This presentation will review how our community has enhanced our traditions, through our Waap (house) groups, and our collective research efforts. As Waap Historian of Łagaax, I reflect on how we are asserting our relationship to our land and resources through revitalization. 

, Chelsey Geralda - Smithsonian Institution

Ethnobiologists are capable of making transformative scientific contributions when they participate in localized actions and acts of colonial dissent. Direct actions like protests, checkpoints, and re-occupations assert Indigenous sovereignty and are an alternative to the wildly expensive and oppressive Canadian justice system. In the examples presented here, traditional land-use and management practices are unequivocally tied to actions of colonial dissent. Simply being on one’s land; tending gardens, harvesting, and hunting, challenge attempts of continuous colonization by government and extractive industry (mining, oil and gas). The history of Indigenous dissent in British Columbia is inextricably tied to resource management and ethnobiologists are dared to explore this deep connection between Indigenous existence and resistance.

Main Johnson
, Leslie - Athabasca University

I examine aspects of traditional tenure and governance among Gitxsan and Witsuwit’en in Northwestern BC to consider how House and Clan territories and owned resource sites work/ have worked to regulate access to and enhance key resources.  This work synthesizes earlier work on conservation, aboriginal burning, berry patch ethnoecology and maintenance, tenure and the ordering of owned resource sites, and most recently, propagation and tending of Pacific crabapple. My sources of information have been predominantly Elders and Chiefs who spoke to me directly about these issues. I briefly consider more recent examples, especially the Madii Lii blockade in the Suskwa drainage (Gitxsan) and its relationship to access to huckleberry patches (2015), and the Unistoten encampment on Gilseyu Dark House Territory (Witsuwit’en) which has sought management of access and development in critical habitats in the upper Morice River (Widzin Kwe) drainage (2015-2019).

, Tanya - University of Victoria

Indigenous-led Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) have gained global attention in recent years due to renewed interest in improving and creating protected areas during a time of Indigenous resurgence. Academic and institutional publications have demonstrated potential social and ecological benefits of IPCAs; however, it is important that their creation, maintenance, recognition, and support follows the vision set forth by Indigenous Peoples. There are few published studies that focus on Indigenous perspectives in the development of IPCA initiatives. Our preliminary findings from a collaborative case study with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations illustrate the development of a new kind of land-and-sea IPCA that highlights the perspective of an Indigenous stewardship organization, in what is currently known as the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. This case study offers a model and insight for other Indigenous Peoples interested in pursuing their own IPCA initiatives and to external actors wish to support them.

, Ashley - Washington Department of Natural Resources

Fire has been an active component in Pacific Northwest landscapes since time immemorial. For millenia, fire was viewed as a tool by people in Washington state. Today, many residents view fire as a force of destruction, or something to combat and suppress at all costs. However, recent studies show that, despite our modern record-breaking wildfires, most areas of the state continue to burn less frequently now than they did for many thousands of years. As conditions continue to become warmer and drier, fire is only expected to increase in the Pacific Northwest. This talk will provide an overview of people/fire relationships in Washington state, and will highlight a few communities that are re-learning how to effectively use and live with fire.   

, Scott - University of Northern BC

Colonization of Indigenous Peoples in Canada must also be understood as a corresponding colonization of Indigenous Lands – the imposition of the progressive ideal of “Improvement”, making land productive, stable and predictable to support the Resource Economy.  My presentation examines legacies of institutional land management imposed upon Xáxli’p Survival Territory in southwestern British Columbia that have homogenized diverse habitats supported by Xaxli’p traditional management practices.  These legacies have created conditions for catastrophic wildfire throughout the Survival Territory, threatening the continuation of Xáxli’p cultural existence.  Our community-directed partnership with Xáxli’p supports reconceptualization of Indigenous land-management reflecting Xáxli’p values grounded in relationality.  Ultimately, reconciling these conflicting paradigms to facilitate landscape restoration to support Xáxli’p self-determination and cultural continuance requires an institutional shift in perception and understanding of Xáxli’p values leading to shared decision-making power.

, Morgan - Sts'ailes/UBC

For over 1,500 years the ancestors of the Sts’ailes people lived in villages along the shores of the Harrison River and Harrison Lake in southwestern British Columbia, both supported by, and creating, one of the most productive ecological regions in North America. Today, this long-term interactive and beneficial relationship between people and plants is challenging to discern, requiring a trained eye and investigation to detect subtle traces of intentional transplanting, cultivation, and ecosystem management. Although the Sts’ailes community now lives on a reserve that is only 0.6% of their territory, persistent efforts are made to use and regain access to culturally important but highly vulnerable plants and places. For the Sts’ailes, this involves a multi-year process of formally defining large tracts of land that contain vestiges of their ancestors land use legacies, including important plant communities and archaeological sites, in order to conserve and use them productively again.

, Dave - Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre
, Natasha - Ursus Heritage Consulting
, John - Simon Fraser University
S’ólh Téméxw
, Stewardship Alliance

The creation of sustainable societies and economies rests on both reconciling and re-conceiving the terms of engagement between colonial and First Nation states. In British Columbia, as in other settler contexts, the land and resource base are a principal nexus for reconciliation dialogue. In this paper, we describe a Collaborative Resource Stewardship Framework co-designed by the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA), a collective of 16 First Nations of Stó:lō located in southwestern British Columbia, and the provincial government of British Columbia. This framework is part of the broader Stó:lō Strategic Engagement Agreement—a form of Reconciliation Agreement—that sets out parameters for government to government collaborative resource management in Stó:lō territory. The agreement looks to bridge the gap between the current status of land-use and resource management in S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō territory) and the desired futures for these lands, as well as working to reconcile Stó:lō and Xwelítem (settler) worldviews.

, Allison - Parks Canada
, Skye - Simon Fraser University
, Nathan - Parks Canada
, Anne - Simon Fraser University
Clam Garden Traditional Knowledge Working Group
Clam Garden Traditional Knowledge Working Group
, Hul'q'umi'num'

Ancient clam gardens – intertidal rock-walled terraces engineered by people – are examples of active coastal management that can increase bivalve production by up to four times relative to unmodified soft sediment beaches. Many clam gardens have not been actively managed for several generations; in recent years, however, Elders, youth, knowledge holders, and scientists have come together to restore beaches, and along with them, revive language, connections to place, and intertidal ecosystems. In partnership with Coast Salish First Nations, Parks Canada is restoring cultural and ecological seascapes in the Southern Gulf Islands. The restoration project involves rebuilding rock walls and implementing traditional tending practices that are guided by community knowledge holders. We are studying how traditional coastal management alters the broader ecological community assemblages of bivalves, mobile invertebrates, and macroalgae at four intertidal sites over six years, while increasing opportunities for Coast Salish communities to re-engage with seascapes.

, Alex - Cornell University

Extended coexistence between cultures and landscapes have resulted in incredibly diverse management practices to increase the availability and productivity of otherwise wild biotic resources. Burning, pruning, transplanting, and other technologies appear to have developed independently in many geographic regions. Communication may be hampered between researchers studying similar management phenomena in different regions, cultures, and ecosystem types. The connectivity of research on traditional management was investigated using bibliometric analyses. There appears to be limited communication between scholars working in geographically disparate areas and strong partitioning at the scales of journals, institutions, authors, and articles. Limited cross-citation not only limits our understanding of human subsistence worldwide, but also our ability to share the ways that documentation of traditional management practices can support traditional land rights and resource claims. Examples from Mexico and Canada are reviewed and potential for reciprocal benefits from increased dialogue are outlined.

, Nancy