“It’s Hard Enough to Control Yourself; It’s Ridiculous to Think You Can Control Animals.” Competing Views on “The Bush” in Contemporary Yukon
Aboriginal Athapaskan (Dineh) conceptions of the "bush" and its occupation by "other-than-human persons"—and the nature of proper relations between "human persons" and the bush and its occupants—stand in vivid contrast to Euro-Canadian views of the "wilderness" and its "natural resources." Because of these distinctive perceptions, misunderstandings arise in the arena of "joint management," which is a provision under the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) on Aboriginal land claims, signed by the Council of Yukon First Nations and the governments of Yukon and Canada. Alternating between Dineh and western academic perspectives, in this article I examine the competing discourse that has arisen in the Yukon during efforts to implement joint management provisions of the UFA, using the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board’s consideration of the issue of catch and release in recreational fishing. Due to a variety of cross-cultural factors, including different orientations to the notions of personhood, power, consensus, and embedded colonial relations, the current structure and implementation of "joint management" is, in practice, contrary to one of the over-arching goals of the UFA: that of the "wish to recognize and protect a way of life that is based on an economic and spiritual relationship between Yukon Indian People and the land."
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