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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land, community, corporation : intercultural correlation between ideas of land in Dene and Inuit tradition and in Canadian law Piddocke, Stuart


The present enquiry is a study of specific social possibilities in a culture-contact situation, namely the encounter of the Dene and Inuit of the Northwest Territories with Canadian society; and shows how by analyzing the basic content of two traditions in contact with one another, the possibilities for mutual adjustment of one tradition to the other, or the lack of such possibilities, may be logically derived from that content. The study also uses the perspective of cultural ecology to devise and demonstrate a way in which any system of land-tenure may be compared with any other, without the concepts of one system being imposed upon the other. The particular problem of the enquiry is to compare the traditional ideas of land and land-tenure among Dene and Inuit with the ideas of land and land-tenure in Canadian law; and to discover a way whereby the Dene and Inuit may use the concepts of the dominant Canadian system to preserve their own traditional ways of holding land. The analysis begins by outlining the cultural ecosystem of each people, their basic modes of subsistence, the resources used, the kinds of technical operations applied to those resources, the work organization, and relevant parts of social organization and world-view. Then, in order, the idea of land which the people appear to be following, the kinds of land-rights and principles of land-holding recognized by the" people, and the kinds of "persons" who may hold land-rights, are described. The systems are then compared in order to discover the possibilities for "reconciliation". The enquiry concludes that the basic premises and characters of the Dene and Inuit systems of land-tenure are fundamentally irreconcilable with those of Canadian real property law, but that the Dene and Inuit systems can be encapsulated within the dominant Canadian system by means of the Community Land-Holding Corporation (CLHC). The CLHC as proposed in this enquiry would allow the members of a community to hold land among themselves according to their own rules, while the corporation holds the land of the whole community against outsiders according to the principles of Canadian law.

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