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Native Land Use and Common Property: Whose Commons?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hrenchuck, Carl
Conference: Common Property Conference, the Second Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Conf. Date: September 26-30
Date: 1993
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8178
Sector: Fisheries
Land Tenure & Use
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
indigenous institutions
land tenure and use
resource management
Cree (North American people)
Abstract: "From the perspective of southern Canada, northern native land use is commonly seen as taking place in a 'wilderness' setting. In a legal framework, much of the harvesting activity is seen to occur on 'unoccupied Crown land'. The resources involved are often seen as common property. The purpose of this paper is to contrast these viewpoints with data obtained from a land use and occupancy study of a Cree community in northern, subarctic Manitoba. Community land use is demonstrated in collective maps trapping travel, of prime areas significant to wildlife harvest, and of preferred commercial fishing sites. Current South Indian Lake land use covers an area of approximately 35,000 km. This land use tends to refute notions of 'wilderness' and the connotation of 'unused' which accompanies the legal term 'unoccupied.' the public's sense of resources is that of common property (res publica), the community's is that of communal resources (res communis). The facts of use and occupancy, and the divergent perceptions of common property resources must be recognized in management structures. Comprehensive comanagement of resource areas and payment of royalties from resource rents to aboriginal governments may provide means of addressing the facts of traditional land use and occupancy. From a community standpoint, these lands are not 'wilderness', but 'home'. The majority of respondents envisioned a viable lifestyle continuing the use of the resources of the land in the future, if in an altered manner. The community furthermore considered the resources as those of the community, and not property common to the general population."

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