L'ethno-écologie des Cris Waswanipis, ou comment des chasseurs peuvent aménager leurs ressources
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This paper on the human ecology of a sub-arctic Indian band is written to call attention to the way the Indians themselves use their environment, and to stress the need for Indians to be involved in the planning for new exploitation of the resources of the James Bay region. It is a common assumption that game animal hunters exercise little control over the resources on which they depend or the environments in which they live. But many biological and ethnographic studies show that it is possible to anticipate the consequences of particular hunting or harvesting patterns on a territory. It is therefore possible for hunters to control some of the critical parameters of the harvested populations on their hunting territories through their choice of resource utilization strategies. Hunters can then exercise some control over the distribution and reproduction of the animal populations which they harvest, and they may in some sense manage their resources. This paper indicates how one group of sub-arctic hunters, the Waswanipi Cree, utilize the resources available to them on their hunting territories. The paper summarizes parts of a detailed study and demonstrates the hypothesis that they are managing their resources in accordance with culturally distinct ethno-ecological system of knowledge. Governments and developers need to recognize that rational management of the resources of the region is already practised, and if these resources are affected it will be necessary that the Indian people themselves be represented on the planning bodies. The Indian people of the region must be allowed to articulate their own needs in decisions about regional development and help to evaluate the impact of the project on the region. Their agreement should be obtained before the resources which they are now using intensively and managing are affected.
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