Aboriginal land claims and cultural preservation: a cultural geography of the Mackenzie Delta Inuvialuit
Isaak, Tony M.
The lnuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) is a comprehensive land claim that was finalized in 1984 by the inuvialuit of the Western Arctic. One of the principal motives for the land claim was the preservation of lnuvialuit culture. This thesis attempts to determine if the lnuvialuit have been successful in their bid to preserve their culture in a rapidly changing Northern society, and what role, if any, the IFA has played in those efforts. It also addresses the potential for employing postmodern theory in examining Aboriginal land claims such as the IFA. The research revealed that the culture highly spatial and place oriented and that lnuvialuit culture identity is closely tied to land-based activities, such as hunting and fishing, and specific locations. The redevelopment of Shingle Point on the Yukon coast of the Beaufort Sea, since the signing of the IFA, is a positive indicator of the culture's survival. This historical location has been used by the lnuvialuit for hunting, trapping and fishing for over a thousand years, and has recently experienced a resurgence as a summer community for lnuvialuit from lnuvik and Aklavik. While Shingle Point was always used by the lnuvialuit, there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of cabins built there since the signing of the IF A, and especially since the reinstatement of the bowhead whale hunt. The redevelopment of Shingle Point as a location for harvesting and preparing country food, its traditional spatial groupings, and social practices suggests that the efforts to preserve the culture have been successful. The research reveals that the IFA has played and important in role in achieving that success.