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An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes


Size, Scale and Values

What is distinct about the size and scale of Aboriginal cultural landscapes?

Those consulted in the preparation of the Board paper pointed out that the size and scale of Aboriginal cultural landscapes would challenge both Aboriginal people and Parks Canada because of their very differing contexts and views.

Aboriginal world views focus on landscape rather than landscape features. Specific sites certainly have associated cultural significance and oral traditions related to their history. However, given the holistic relationship of Aboriginal people and their land, such places are seen primarily not as isolated spots but as parts of larger landscapes. Identifiable landscapes may equally be only parts of still larger cultural landscapes.

Aerial view of islands in lake.
Baldy Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.
© Parks Canada / D. Muir /, 1967

The Dogrib sacred sites identified along the Idaà Trail illustrate this relationship of sites to the larger landscape. Moreover, the Trail itself is part of the Dogrib cultural landscape, which comprises 100,000 square miles.

The scale of whole landscapes provides significant challenges to the approach of commemorative integrity which underlies Parks Canada's national historic sites commemorative program. Securing the "health or wholeness" of these vast areas may require close examination of the current understanding of the concept as it applies to historic place, historic values and objectives for large cultural landscapes.


Last Updated: 2008-10-17 To the top
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