An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes
Intangible Values and Identity
Does the international heritage community recognize, for the purpose of heritage designation, the
legitimacy of intangible values that indigenous peoples attach to land?
In addition to Parks Canada, the concept of 'cultural landscapes' has become widely accepted internationally by
diverse heritage bodies including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the
International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and
Restoration of Cultural Property, the World Conservation Union, the Council of Europe, Environment Australia,
and the US National Park Service. While individual definitions vary, their direction focusses consistently on
the inter-relatedness between human society and the natural environment.
A flight of thick-billed murre, Sirmilik National Park, Nunavut.
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch / 13.01.10.02(09), 1996.
These leading participants in the international heritage movement, where Canada is also an active party, have
overtly recognized cultural landscapes which are characterized by the intangible values that indigenous peoples
attach to landscape. In according heritage status to places with spiritual associations in the absence of material
remains, they acknowledge human values crucial to the identities of these peoples. They also explicitly accept that
the associated peoples identify such places and values.