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Indigenous Law Journal >
Fall 2003, Volume 2, No. 1 >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17109

Title: "Looking After the Country Properly": A Comparative History of Indigenous Peoples and Australian and American National Parks
Authors: Wunder, John R.
Issue Date: 1-Oct-2003
Publisher: Indigenous Law Journal
Abstract: This comparative study of the modern intersection of Indigenous peoples, nation states and national parks documents the evolving diverse attempts by Indigenous peoples to expand their sovereignty over their homelands and the evolution of new management models that allow Native inhabitants of national parks to have some influence on the policies directly concerning their environments and lives. The essay is derived from fieldwork, interviews, Indigenous writings and extensive analysis of government documents specifically relating to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal peoples and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia, and the Nez Perce peoples and the Nez Perce Historical National Park in the United States. Australia initially started the process of turning over management of national parks to their Indigenous inhabitants. Of four parks slated for various kinds of Aboriginal management-sharing models, Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock) in Northern Territory has been the most successful. In 1985, Australia’s federal parliament deeded Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to its residents, the Pitjantjatjaras and Yankunytjatjaras. The statute required that the new Aboriginal owners then lease the park back to the federal government, but it also created a Board of Management composed of a majority of Aborigines to construct policies that have attempted to make Uluru-Kata Tjuta into a truly “Aboriginal National Park.” This new model fully extending Aboriginal sovereignty has been in operation for 15 years, and a number of changes gradually incorporating the goals and aspirations of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunktjatjara peoples have graced one of Australia’s most well-known tourist attractions. The closest comparable arrangement in the United States is found at the Nez Perce Historical National Park. This national park, created in 1965 and expanded in 1992, embraces 30 sites in four states (primarily in Idaho and also in Oregon, Washington and Montana). It originally sought to tell the history of the Nez Perce primarily from a non-Nez-Perce, Park Service perspective. While the Nez Perce Reservation resides within the purview of the national park and a number of sites can be found on or near the reservation, Indigenous management or even consultation was initially kept to a minimum. Gradually that has changed, and now there is a federal requirement of consultation and partnership among the Park Service, the states, private site managers and the Nez Perce. For the past 10 years, a new model of Indigenous management has emerged at Nez Perce Historical National Park that may be replicated at other national parks in the United States. Nez Perce partnership, nevertheless, is not yet comparable to Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal management.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17109
ISSN: 1703-4566
Rights: Indigenous Law Journal
Appears in Collections:Fall 2003, Volume 2, No. 1

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