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Reserves and resources:local rhetoric on land, language, and identity amongst the Taku River Tlingit and Loon River Cree First Nations Open Access


Other title
endangered languages
traditional land use studies
land planning
language revitalization
land claims
aboriginal languages
language planning
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Schreyer, Christine
Supervisor and department
Daveluy, Michelle (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Fletcher, Chris (Anthropology)
Bielawski, Ellen (Native Studies)
Morrow, Phyllis (Anthropology, University of Alaska - Fairbanks)
Philips, Lisa (Anthropology)
Palmer, Andie (Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation compares and contrasts aboriginal language planning within Canada at both the national and local scale. In 2005, the Aboriginal Languages Task Force released their foundational report which entailed “a national strategy to preserve, revitalize, and promote [Aboriginal] languages and cultures” (2005:1); however, discrepancies exist between their proposed strategies and the strategies employed locally by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, located in Atlin, British Columbia, and the Loon River Cree First Nation, located in Loon Lake, Alberta. Using data collected during ethnographic fieldwork with each First Nation between 2005 and 2008, I provide a rationale for these discrepancies and propose reasons why the national strategy has, as of 2008, been unsuccessful. Both national and local strategies have focused on the relationship between land and language and its role in language planning. National language planning rhetoric has also utilized the concept of nationhood. However, both the Taku River Tlingit and the Loon River Cree use the concept of nationhood in conjunction with assertions of sovereignty over land and, therefore, situate their language planning within land planning. Throughout my research, I have been involved in volunteer language projects for each of the communities. These have included creating a Tlingit language board game entitled “Haa shagóon ítxh yaa ntoo.aat” (Traveling Our Ancestors’ Paths) and Cree language storybooks entitled Na mokatch nika poni âchimon (I will never quit telling stories). Both of these projects connect land use and language use and can be seen as part of local language planning strategies. Finally, the Aboriginal Languages Task Force uses the concept of “language as a right” within their national language planning strategies; however, the Taku River Tlingit and the Loon River Cree have instead utilized a “language as resource” ideology (Ruiz, 1984). I argue that the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and the Loon River Cree First Nation use “language as a resource” rhetoric due to their ideologies of land stewardship over Euro-Canadian models of land ownership and I argue that language planning can not stand on its own – separated from the historical, political, economic, social, and cultural considerations that a community faces.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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