About the Gwich'in Settlement
The Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement was signed in 1992.
The Agreement covers approximately 56,935 square kilometers and includes
the communities of Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic.
The Gwich’in Settlement Area has two mountain
ranges: the Mackenzie Mountains and the Richardson Mountains.
Much of the landscape is covered by boreal forest, arctic
tundra and alpine tundra. The Mackenzie Delta is the largest
delta in Canada (12, 170 km sq.). It drains an area of 1.75
million km sq., discharges 335 cubic km of water per year and
carries 118 tonnes of suspended sediment.
total population of the Gwich'in Settlement Area, including Gwich'in
beneficiaries, Inuvialuit, Metis and non-aboriginals, is approximately
5,100. There are close to 2,440 Gwich'in beneficiaries, but only
about 1,400 Gwich'in live in the land claim area.
For centuries, the Gwich'in have depended on the land for their
survival. Today, the knowledge they have accumulated is used to
manage the resources they control in the Gwich'in Settlement Area. People
still depend heavily on the renewable resources of the area, such
as caribou and fish, for maintaining their lifestyle and their
ties with the land.
Each community has a council that deals with local renewable resource
issues. The elected/appointed members represent their community
at meetings to make decisions on renewable resource management
The renewable resources are managed
through a co-management structure. The Gwich'in Renewable Resources
Board is the main co-management body responsible for renewable
resources. Caribou and moose are important to the Gwich'in as
subsistence food sources. The ranges of both the Porcupine and Bluenose
caribou herds overlap the settlement area. Moose are found throughout
Fish are used throughout the settlement area. The main
species used are Broad Whitefish, Dolly Varden Charr, Coney, Lake
Whitefish, Lake Trout, Burbot (loche) and Northern Pike (jackfish). Forests
of black and white spruce cover a large part of the Gwich'in Settlement
Area. This ecosystem provides habitat for caribou, bears and fur-bearers.
The largest trees are concentrated in the Mackenzie Delta
and in the river and creek valleys.