TRADITIONAL LAND USE
We depend on the land, and we want to make sure that future generations of all Albertans can enjoy its beauty and bounty.
For hundreds of years, right up until
the 1970’s, the Aseniwuche Winewak
“Rocky Mountain People” made their
homes and livelihood in a vast area
known as our traditional use area.
The heartland of our traditional use
area is the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains, known for its beauty,
wealth of resources and temperate
climate. The people moved about
according to both their needs and
In winter, the people broke up into
small family groups to hunt and trap.
In spring, many of the Aboriginal
people would gather at their favorite
camping places such as Jarvis Lake
with other Aboriginal families.
Summer was time to travel, visit, gather medicines, raise cattle, break horses and cut hay. Sometimes, several families would gather for the summer at a particular spot such as Muskeg River. Some Grande Cache families even went west, over the mountains, to get horses, salmon and berries.
Fall was the season for hunting, gathering, guiding as well as stocking the cabins and caches for the winter trapping season. For the purposes of survival and economic benefit, the families moved about our traditional use area and made the most of a bountiful land.
Our lands are held communally, not by individuals, so it cannot be used as equity. Yet, if we do not hold the land communally it reverts back automatically to the Province.
Our current land holdings are a
remnant of our Traditional Lands.
The land holding agreements that
exist today are unique in Alberta,
possibly in Canada. When the Town
of Grande Cache was built, our
People did not have clear
Constitutional Status. The Province
simply described the People as
“Original Native Settlers,” and
organized us into four Cooperative
Associations and two Enterprises to
hold seven small parcels of land.
The six Aboriginal communities in
the Grande Cache area are: Muskeg
Seepe Cooperative, Susa Creek
Cooperative, Grande Cache Lake
Enterprise (Kamisak Development), Victor Lake Cooperative, Joachim Enterprise, and Wanyandie Flats Cooperative (East and West). The seven parcels together total 4150 acres.
The land is held communally by members with either an elected Board of Directors or Managing Director. Each Cooperative and Enterprise holds a fee simple title to the parcels of land and has the legal authority to manage its own affairs. The land arrangements unusual structure has resulted in many of the problems we face today. In a modern economy, wealth is tied to equity, usually in the form of personal property. However, our lands are held communally, not by individuals, so it cannot be used as equity. Yet, if we do not hold the land communally it reverts back automatically to the Province, putting our claim to the land in immediate peril.
AWN has developed an integrated approach for the ongoing collection and preservation of our history and traditional knowledge.
Traditional Land Use & Occupancy Study (TLUOS)
Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Study was launched in 1998 to preserve our heritage and build capacity for consultation. The study identifies traditional uses, sites and areas occupied and used by the Rocky Mountain People over time. The oral history of our elders and community members is documented in interviews, mapping sessions, and site visits. Information is collected about trails, campsites, cabins, burial sites, ceremonial and spiritual areas, gathering and hunting areas, and more. Data is used to map historical, current and future use of the land. Spatial information is utilized as a platform for electronic referral for industry consultation. Baseline maps were created with several hundred significant sites and areas identified by Elders and community members. Sites are ground-truthed and global satellite positioning equipment is used to pinpoint the locations.
The study is ongoing, and includes historical and current information and reasonable assumptions for the future. Financial support for the Traditional Land Use Study came from government, oil and gas, mining, and forestry industries. However the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation and Aseniwuche Development Corporation (a commercial company operated by the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation) remain the major sponsors of the project.