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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultural conflict in decision making in the Northwest Territories Feeney, Margaret Mary


a multicultural society: the existence of cross-cultural communication barriers which can hinder effective planning. The hypothesis is that communication problems that arise in cross-cultural planning efforts in the Northwest Territories go beyond substantive issues and are deeply-rooted in fundamental differences between White and Native attitudes about decision making processes. In land use planning, communication problems are even further exacerbated by conflicting White and Native attitudes toward land. Anthropological concepts are used to provide insights into the dynamics of cross-cultural interactions. The work of anthropologists and other social scientists, in addition to the author's field experience, is used to synthesize descriptions of "traditional" (i.e. roughly around the turn of the century) and emerging White and Native patterns of decision making. Comparison shows that traditional patterns are fundamentally different, but that emerging patterns-are beginning to converge in significant ways. The author recommends emphasizing the areas where White and Native decision making patterns are beginning to overlap in establishing models of decision making to meet the needs of the new multicultural Northwest Territories society. Some of the problems that have resulted from imposing decision making models based on White values on new northern communities in the 1950's and 1960's are explored. In addition, two sets of minutes are examined to show that communication problems among northern Natives and White government and industry representatives are exacerbated by fundamental differences in cultural values. The implications of this thesis for contemporary decision making issues confronting Northwest Territories residents are explored. Recommendations are made for further testing the hypothesis and for monitoring the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication in northern decision making.

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