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The communicative difficulties of integrating traditional environmental knowledge through wildlife and resource co-management

Spak, Stella Tadwiga





Over the last thirteen years more and more co-management boards have been established in North America. The healthy functioning of these boards is nevertheless still very much in its infancy. These boards attempt to combine systems of wildlife and resource management that grew within distinctly different cultures and were formed by distinctly different languages. Using the Beverly and Kaminuriak Caribou Management Board as an example I am looking at the structure and functioning of such boards. To what extent is it possible for them to be based on both, western science and traditional environmental knowledge? True communication between user representatives and government representatives often does not seem to take place. The reason for this can be found in the fact that most boards seem to ignore the reality that they are bicultural and at least bilingual institutions. By solely operating in English, and by solely using the western administrative structure for their functioning, co-management boards stifle all true communication in its infancy. There is no easy solution to the intercultural communication problems of co-management boards. While much future research needs to be directed into this area, co-management boards also need to be aware of their communication problems and need to acknowledge the fact that they can not successfully function as a unilingual institution.

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