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Title: Speaking for the Caribou : traditional knowledge, resilience and environmental change in the Yukon territory
Author: Consiglio, Erin M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 5185
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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The Vuntut Gwitchin of Old Crow, the northernmost community in the Yukon, have relied on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for thousands of years, both culturally and as a food source. However, environmental changes in the North are threatening the herd; in the face of such environmental change, resilience is a key factor in the continued survival of both Gwitchin and caribou. Resilience can be a contradictory concept, used by various disciplines from ecology to social science. Although it is typically described as the ability to deal with disturbance, resilience does not necessarily seek to avoid change entirely, but rather, it is the ability of a system 'to persist in an uncertain world' (Perrings, cited in Olsson et al 2015: 1). Change can be accepted, whether that is modifying hunting techniques to accommodate changes in animal behaviour, or adopting new technology. For the Gwitchin, what matters is that the underlying values, such as respect for the land and animals, remains. Nevertheless, there are limits to the concept of resilience and some changes may be too great. Infrastructure in the calving grounds may cause lasting damage to the Porcupine herd, and the Gwitchin believe that their fate is tied to that of the caribou, saying 'if it's gone, we're gone'. Local, land-based knowledge is the key to developing and strengthening resilience for both people and caribou. Detailed knowledge of the land, gained through experience of being and traveling on the land, helps caribou and Gwitchin to adapt to changing conditions as the North grows warmer. For the Gwitchin, traditional knowledge is also used to protect against further environmental disturbance caused by extractive industry. By sharing their knowledge, the Gwitchin are working towards their own resilience, as well as that of the Porcupine herd.
Supervisor: Anderson, David George ; Wishart, Robert P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Caribou ; Vuntut Gwich'in Indians ; Global environmental change