Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
The Flathead River Valley is an ecologically meaningful and resource-rich borderland straddling the Canadian-U.S. border in the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. For thirty years, non-indigenous environmental groups have advocated for national park designation in Canada’s Flathead because of concerns over water quality, endangered species protection, and wildlife corridor connectivity. The success of their advocacy is reflected in the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the governments of British Columbia and Montana. This MOU has alleviated incompatible land-use policies between the two nations and protected the headwaters of the Flathead from proposed mountain-top removal coal extraction and coalbed methane development. Nonetheless, the same environmental groups have continued to advocate for national park designation, to permanentlyprotect the valley. Last year, however, these groups changed their campaign messaging, abandoning calls for national park designation in response to a growing recognition of unextinguished Indigenous title. This talk explores the ongoing struggles for control over land’s meaning and use through an examination of environmentalists’ and land users’ perspectives on national park creation.