UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An alternative strategy for resource development : a Gitksan Wet'suwet'en proposal Yellowfly, Cathrine Luanne


The central issue addressed by this thesis is the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en proposal to use their traditional values, practices and systems as the basis of a contemporary strategy for resource management and development in the market economy. Instead of adopting a market-based approach, the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en are proposing to use the traditional institutions and structures of their society as a framework for commercial resource operations. Gitksan Wet’suwet’en initiatives to increase their participation in the market economy are an outgrowth of traditional goals arid objectives for prosperity and self-reliance. However, in an effort to preserve their perceived role in the maintenance of the universal order, the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en are proposing a strategy that will enable them to conduct market-oriented resource activities in accordance with the traditional la and custom of their ancestors. The model they propose represents an alternative strategy for the management and development of natural resources in a market setting. This thesis argues that, from a Gitksan Wet’suwet’en perspective, the use of this proposed strategy offers several important benefits to the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en community. Discussions focus around ewe main arguments. First, the use of traditional Institutions and structures as the basis of contemporary resource management means the rate of Gitksan Wet’suwet’en market development activities would be slowed to a pace that can be socially accommodated. The key benefit to the Gitksan Wet’suwet’en is that potential disruptions to their social order and lifeways may be reduced. Second, administering commercial resource operations through traditional institutions and structures means that Gitksan Wet’suwet’en market activities would remain synchronized with Gitksan Wet’suwet’en social needs and goals. The principle benefit is that risks to both the social welfare of Gitksan Wet’suwet’en society and the limited resource base upon which they depend may be minimized. Data used in the presentation of the traditional Gitksan Wet’suwet’en resource management model were taken from a variety of published and unpublished sources, as well as other resource materials including court documents, myths, and Journal articles. Arguments presented in this thesis are supported by an examination of relevant literature on: (1) the historical emergence of the market economy; and (2) the use of common property systems within a market setting.

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