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Indigenous Peoples -- Culture -- British Columbia


Indigenous Peoples’ lives, cultures, and values are defined largely by their long-term relationships with the lands, waters, and lifeforms of their territories. Their stories, names, ceremonies, and connections with the plants and animals on which they have depended over countless generations are cornerstones of their knowledge systems, systems of governance and decision-making, traditions of intergenerational knowledge transmission, and values and responsibilities associated with natural and human domains alike. For First Nations of North America’s Northwest Coast, as for many other Indigenous Peoples, the arrival of European newcomers disrupted both the natural world and associated cultural practices in interconnected ways. The industrial exploitation of lands and resources had wide-ranging effects: traditional land and resource appropriation; impacts on culturally significant habitats by industrial-scale fishing, logging, and mining; and discrimination and marginalization contributing to resource alienation. This paper documents some experiences of Kwakwaka’wakw and other Coastal First Nations in coping with the cultural effects of environmental loss. It highlights their concern for the ecological integrity of lands and waters formerly under their stewardship but reshaped by non-Native extractive economies, and describes how these losses have affected the cultural, social, and physical health of Kwakwaka’wakw peoples up to the present time.


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