Finding Voice in a Changing Ecological and Political Landscape — Traditional Knowledge and Resource Management in Settled and Unsettled Claim Areas of the Northwest Territories, Canada


  • Brenda Parlee University of Alberta



The Traditional Knowledge Policy (1994) of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) provides the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples of the NWT with a useful basis for influencing the management of land, water, wildlife, and other valued resources. The mechanisms of such influence are not always clear, however, particularly for those unfamiliar with the details of the bureaucratic process. This paper developed around the question, “what ecological and social (institutional) factors affect how, when, and to what extent Traditional Knowledge holders have voice in decisions about key resource management issues?” More specifically, does the ecological scale of the resource management problem and the settlement of Comprehensive Land Claim Agreements matter? Using forest fire management, non-renewable resource development, and climate change as case studies, the paper identifies a diversity of institutional arrangements in settled and unsettled land claim areas of the NWT by which Traditional Knowledge can have significant influence over resource management decision-making.