Donning the Regalia: Maintaining Tradition in an Age of Modernity
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Harry Nelson, Department of Forest Resources Management, UBC; Dr. Janette Bulkan, Department of Forest Resources Management, UBC.
While the national media often focuses on aboriginal protests, portraying a picture of conflict between Indigenous peoples at odds with modern society, underneath a quieter, more transformative change is taking place across Canada and internationally. Globally, Indigenous communities are reasserting their identity as a people and their collective ability to determine their own futures. In doing so, they are finding new ways in which they can govern themselves while being part of society, not apart. Like other governments, they are concerned with how to best provide for their citizens, which requires interacting with the modern economy. In order to do so effectively, they need to rebuild effective governance institutions that also integrate traditional governance arrangements and practices with modern institutions.
The proposed International Research Roundtable directly addresses this challenge by asking: how are Indigenous peoples integrating their traditional values into effective governance systems for land stewardship and economic development? A principal goal of this Roundtable is to identify what community and economic development strategies in modern day circumstances have been successful while respecting traditional values and decision-making. The benefit of drawing together experts and leaders to discuss this point is that it draws on years of practical experience these individuals have in creating a Nation’s vision, developing policies and implementing constitutional and statutory laws. While these Nations have already developed political and organizational structures that are currently in practice, there remains an ongoing struggle to incorporate traditional systems of governance such as hereditary rights, clan families, and social justice community members and elders council into decision-making around these development strategies and associated issues. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges facing modern society today is how to create more economic prosperity but not at the expense of the environment, and there are larger lessons to be learned from examples of how the Indigenous peoples in their respective territories are successfully balancing development while sustaining their environment.