Finding Balance: Determining The Relationship Between “Economic Development," Traditional Knowledge and Natural Resource Management in the Context of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq

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Whitman, Zabrina
Economic Development , Indigenous , Mi'kmaq , Traditional Knowledge , Nova Scotia , Natural Resource Management
Indigenous societies discuss the importance of Mother Earth for their well-being and many are working to regain control of their lands and waters and how they are used. Critically, many state that land access strengthens culture and traditional (ecological) knowledge. In this research I tried to determine if the reality reflects the rhetoric, looking particularly at how the concepts of economic development and traditional knowledge interact with each other, and impact Indigenous resource management. The case study focused on the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, examining the process of management implementation at a macro level. Sixteen semi-structured interviews took place in nine of thirteen communities. The results illustrated that economic development is necessary for Mi’kmaq sustainability and community sustenance, but also economic development is a needed political tool to gain power with the state. Further, traditional knowledge is connected to land management. With the loss of this knowledge due to colonialism and a greater influence of mainstream western liberal thought, respect for the land is reduced and this impacts Indigenous resource management practices. These factors also negatively impact relations between individuals and within the community as a whole. For true (Mi’kmaq) sustainability, resource management strategies should be based on Mi’kmaq values and practices and be wary of capitalist tendencies.
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