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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward aboriginal land management: the experience of the Kyuquot first nation Robertson, Linda G.


As part of a broader development process aimed at achieving greater self-reliance, many rural, resource-based aboriginal communities in B.C. are searching for means of developing a community-based, culturally appropriate alternative to the way local forest resources are currently being managed. The term “aboriginal land management” (ALM) is used in this thesis, to represent this ideal toward which community development efforts can be directed. The purpose of the thesis is to analyze the nature and outcomes of the on-going process used by one B.C. aboriginal community to gain more control over the management of local forest resources as a means for achieving greater self-reliance. A case study of the Kyuquot Native Tribe’s (KNT) experience provides insight into what aboriginal communities stand to gain or lose, and the battles they might expect to face in their efforts to bring about ALM. The literature indicates that a major challenge for aboriginal communities attempting to advance ALM is the need to access the skills, expertise and opportunities that exist outside the community while, at the same time maintaining and rebuilding the community’s own cultural traditions and autonomy. The case study focuses particular attention on how the KNT has dealt with this challenge. The broad range of strategies and initiatives used by the KNT to overcome an array of internal and external obstacles to ALM are documented and analyzed. All have required some level of interaction and learning between the KNT and outside people, institutions and organizations. The history of the development process is analyzed in terms of how opportunities and constraints evolved in response to individual strategies and groups of initiatives. While cooperative alliances with outsiders are shown to have been instrumental in advancing the KNT through stages toward ALM, they have posed certain risks to community self reliance. The thesis specifically identifies the risks and benefits involved in the KNT’s joint forestry management initiatives with two of the major forest companies operating in Kyuquot Territory. It is concluded that, although obstacles to ALM continue to mount and the future for the KNT is still very uncertain, the development process so far has increased the community’s capacity for self-reliance through ALM. The Kyuquot experience provides lessons on how benefits can be derived from cooperative alliances with outsiders and suggests how risks can be minimized by: -strengthening the linkages between internal development strategies (e.g., social development programs) and external development strategies (e.g., protests and publicity); and, -linking community economic, social and cultural development initiatives. In creating such linkages, a strong base of community commitment to, and involvement in ALM initiatives can be created to help ensure that community interests and values are protected in ALM initiatives involving outsiders. The case study highlights the value and the limits of what joint forestry management with industry can achieve in terms of advancing ALM. While joint management is not an end in itself, it provides a valuable opportunity for creating and exploring new channels through which learning can take place between “insiders” and “outsiders” to advance ALM.

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