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Ła al'algyag̱a laxyuuba Gitḵ'a'ata (The Territory of the Gitga'at speaks): Place-based Indigenous knowledge in the heart of Gitga'at Territory

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Indigenous knowledge plays an increasingly vital role in academic scholarship, Canadian law and policy, and the promotion of environmental awareness. In the last three decades, the methods used to research Indigenous knowledge have become an important focus of inquiry in the social sciences. Researchers agree it is essential to incorporate the ontology and epistemology of the people being studied into these methodological frameworks. The most appropriate framework for understanding human-environmental relationships is one rooted within the culture of a community and its people, the land from which they come, and the language that is their own. Such research on people and place has implications far beyond the local level. This includes the protection of biocultural diversity, the revitalization of language and cultural connections, and Indigenous rights and title. This dissertation compiles three interdisciplinary research papers to tell the story of relating to place in an Indigenous context. Using the knowledge of my own people, I illuminate the connections between place-based Indigenous knowledge, heritage preservation, language, identity, and environmental management. The research focuses on a sacred watershed of the Gitḵ'a'ata people, also known as the Gitga'at, a Sm'algya̱x speaking tribe of the Ts'msyen (Tsimshian) of the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. The watershed, named Laxg̱a̱lts'ap, holds significant meaning to all Gitḵ'a'ata today, as it was their ancestral home for thousands of years and continues to act as a breadbasket for the people. Using an autoethnographic approach grounded in Indigenous methodologies, this dissertation tells the story of Laxg̱a̱lts'ap through three thematic topics: ethnohistory; traditional ecological knowledge, stewardship, and harvesting; and Sm'algya̱x – the Indigenous language of the Gitḵ'a'ata people. While braiding Indigenous Knowledge with the academic disciplines of archaeology, resource and environmental management, and linguistics, this dissertation honours deep-time Indigenous knowledge systems while exploring what it means to understand humans and their relationship with place today.
146 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Lepofsky, Dana
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