At the very general level, the aim of this paper is to compare the interaction of national parks and native peoples in Northern Canada (Yukon Territory), Alaska, and the Northern Territory of Australia. Currently these areas are subject to increasing land-use pressures from mining, industrial development, the creation of national parks and related reserves, and native attempts to maintain traditional wildlife and renewable resource use. The study focuses on the interactions between national parks and native peoples on the premise that experiences can be compared and problems encountered in one area but possibly avoided in another.
The study begins by briefly describing native land-use issues, land-rights arrangements, and organizations, in the Yukon Territory, central Alaska, and Northern Australia. The national park agencies are described, compared, and shown to differ considerably in institutional character, field of management, control of land, and external links with interest groups such as native peoples. Case-studies of the national parks etc. named Kluane (Yukon), Gates of the Arctic (Alaska), and Kakadu (Northern Territory of Australia), are presented to provide more details on similarities and differences in planning, types of tenure, native subsistence activities, and other factors.
In the Yukon Territory, neither the national parks agency nor the native people are highly motivated to interact. In contrast, the park agencies and native people in Alaska and the Northern Territory of Australia recognize mutual benefits from interaction—largely as a result of legislation and policies which encourage cooperation. Native involvement officers now facilitate coordination in the Yukon and Alaska. Park agency native employment programmes are proceeding in all three ‘hinterlands’, while native people can own land on which national parks are established in Alaska and the Australian Northern Territory. Only in Australia are native people known to be directly involved in upperlevel national park management. Potential limitations on native subsistence and associated use of national parks range from moderate to severe, and are only defined clearly in Alaska. Lack of definition leads to confusion in deciding upon native use, while exceedingly precise definition precludes flexibility at the park level.
A number of aids to a more mutually satisfactory interaction can be identified. One is motivation, or recognition by both parties that there are advantages to consultation and cooperation. Another, not yet achieved in the Yukon, is a land-claims settlement, stating the legislated rights of native peoples in the ‘hinterlands’ and giving them a land-holding and bargaining status which is comparable with that of government agencies. A third aid is comprehensive systematic and regional planning efforts involving opportunities for informed input from all affected parties. Such planning would provide a forum for consideration of a variety of interests, including national parks and native peoples. Finally, satisfactory interaction on the park site could be assisted by clear yet flexible means of deciding upon acceptable native use of parkland, the conservation of wildlife, and associated economic and cultural factors.