Literature Review: Local and Traditional Knowledge in the Great Bear Lake Watershed

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  • The Great Bear Lake Watershed is home to the Sahtú Dene communities of Fort Good Hope, Délįne, Tulita, and Colville Lake and is also an area historically used by other Indigenous peoples, including the Tłı̨chǫ and Inuit communities of the Kitikmeot region. A significant body of local and traditional knowledge has been documented by early anthropologists such as Rushforth, through the Sahtú Renewable Resources Board (SRRB), the Sahtú Land Use Planning process as well as the protected areas process associated with the Great Bear Lake region. Compared to other regions of the Mackenzie River Basin, there is a relatively significant body of knowledge documented and publicly available for this region, and fewer gaps. The key areas of documented local and traditional knowledge have been in the area of oral histories, place names, as well as details about fishing culture, practices and socio-economic patterns of fishing across the region. A large body of work about the impacts of resource development is in development. The region has been a major focus of land and water protection when compared to other areas of the Mackenzie River Basin. Most notable is the work done to document local and traditional knowledge related to the governance of the watershed, and defined through the review document titled ‘The Water Heart—A Management Plan for the Great Bear Lake and its Watershed, directed by The Great Bear Lake Working Group (2005/2006). Gaps determined through this review include documented sources of knowledge about the health of fish populations and other aquatic resources, knowledge related to water quality, quantity and flow as well as observations or knowledge that may be climate-related, including that associated with climate change. The historic and contemporary impacts as well as the future legacy, of oil and gas activity in the Norman Wells area and its impacts on the aquatic ecosystem are poorly documented. There are, however, a great number of documented sources of knowledge related to the community of Délįne when compared to other Sahtú communities and other Indigenous groups that might have overlapping interests in the region, including the Tłı̨chǫ and Kitikmeot Inuit peoples.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    Great Bear Lake, Mackenzie River Basin