Transboundary Agreement

What is a heritage resource?

In the Yukon Transboundary Agreement a heritage resource is:

  • a document such as a map, picture or letter that is of cultural or historic significance; or
  • an object or structure that is of scientific or cultural value.

Who owns heritage resources found on Tetlit Gwich'in Yukon land?

Generally, the Tetlit Gwich'in own and manage heritage resources found on Tetlit Gwich'in Yukon land. Any access right to the Tetlit Gwich'in Yukon land does not take away Tetlit Gwich'in ownership or management of heritage resources. Public records held by a government department, for example maps or letters, are owned and managed by the government. Section 9.2.4 of the Transboundary Agreement outlines the steps that should be followed if someone accidentally discovers heritage resources on Tetlit Gwich'in Yukon land.

How will heritage sites be set up?

Setting up a designated heritage site does not affect ownership of Tetlit Gwich'in Yukon land.

The government will:

  • tell the Tetlit Gwich'in whenever they identify a proposed "designated heritage site" within either the Primary or Secondary Use Areas;

  • consult with the Tetlit Gwich'in before making management plans for designated heritage sites in the Primary Use Area, and for any Tetlit Gwich'in heritage sites in the Secondary Use Area; and

  • consult with the Tetlit Gwich'in when they want to bring in laws about Tetlit Gwich'in heritage sites or resources.

What if a Tetlit Gwich'in burial site is found?

Government and the Tetlit Gwich'in will each come up with ways to manage and protect the Tetlit Gwich'in burial sites. These procedures should deal with limiting access, consultation with the Tetlit Gwich'in and other affected First Nations. Section 9.5.1 of the Transboundary Agreement lists these protective measures.

Where a person discovers a First Nation burial site while doing an activity authorized by government, Yukon First Nation, or the Tetlit Gwich'in, the person may continue to do the activity if they get permission from:

  • the Yukon First Nation in whose traditional territory the site is located; or

  • the Tetlit Gwich'in, if the site is in the Primary Use Area.

Are there economic opportunities for the Tetlit Gwich'in related to heritage resource management in the primary use Area?

The government will tell the Tetlit Gwich'in of any invitation for public tenders as associated with the management of heritage sites related to the history or culture of the Tetlit Gwich'in. The Tetlit Gwich'in will have the first chance to accept any contract offered by Canada for the management of a designated heritage site within the Primary Use Area.

From the document "Understanding the Gwich'in Land Claim," Gwich'in Tribal Council and GNWT, 2000.