- Mar 2017
This is what their claims are about, and this is why they say their claims must be settled before a pipeline is built.
In this statement, Berger is expressing the perspective of the native culture that has not been treated as owners of their ancestral land. Even though land claims are rarely perfect, Berger argues their importance in improving social inequalities. As a whole, the native populations aren’t opposed to the creation of a pipeline, however they are demanding respect in these decisions that will vastly impact their land (132). Until this point the native populations have been viewed from a largely colonialist viewpoint. Starting in the mid 19th century with the Hudson’s Bay Company wanting to “tap the value of the arctic and drain it via the Mackenzie river” (18). After the fur traders, whaling boats harvested the abundance of the Mackenzie delta from the north (31). Continuing on, the imperial mindset brought forth Reindeer as a “solution” and apology to the native people (78). After this rich history of white subjugation, it is obvious why the paramount issue at the time of this document was not the creation of the oil pipeline, but instead government agreements to settle land claims and ownership. In stating “This is what their claims are about”, Berger is arguing for the crucial impact in continuing to develop these large projects on other people's land without their consent. Due to the extensive environmental considerations as well as the mass amount of infrastructure needed for this project, the Canadian government would be entering a new stage of colonialism if they were to follow through with this project without consultation of the local populations.
Annotation drawn from Stuhl, Andrew. Unfreezing the Arctic: Science, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands. University of Chicago Press, 2016, 132