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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.

Flock of birds in flight against sky.
A flight of thick-billed murre, Sirmilik National Park, Nunavut.
© Parks Canada / W. Lynch /, 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.


Last Updated: 2008-10-17 To the top
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