The Mackenzie Valley: Native Land Claims and Corporate Growth

Rolfe, Roger
Publisher:  Development Education Centre, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1977  
Pages:  6pp   Price:  $0.85  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX241

An overview of the demands on the Dene Nation regarding the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline proposal.

Abstract:  This article presents a brief, carefully written overview of the demands of the Dene Nation regarding the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline proposal. The development of the plan by the oil companies is put into perspective by recalling the history of native people of northern Canada as various industrial interests exploited their land and resources. Fur trade used the Indian's experience to serve the interests of Europe. In the case of fish, timber and agriculture, they were simply marginalized as settlers took the products themselves. More recent history has only underscored the displacement of the native economic base. Until 1968 the Mackenzie Valley was relatively untouched by corporate interests. Now the Dene of that region are fighting for survival as a people. Since 1899 treaties have been signed with these people of the north, in Dene eyes, as a friendship pact. Fortunately for them, the surrender of land which the government saw in the signatures had little effect since the resource boom expected in those days did not materialize. Since the dicovery of oil, the NWT has become a "last frontier". Not only has the search for oil and gas become intense, government policy has encouraged corporate pressure. It is Ottawa who has battled ferociously against U.S. proposals and who championed the Mackenzie Valley route. Along with the pipeline will go an entire infrastructure of support, perhaps also an oil pipeline as well. The "native problem" is to be solved by shifing Dene to reserves. And then of course to welfare. The Dene have responded by mounting a large-scale campaign for their recognition as a nation of people within Canada. Their process, then, is political not legal. For this they require recognition of rights to traditional lands and self-determination as a people.

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