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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Educational Uses

Traditional Land Use Studies (TUS), Traditional Land Use Studies (TLUS), also called Traditional Ecological Use Studies (TEK) examine the past and present use of land by First Nations' peoples, as concerns fishing, hunting and trapping, as well as their use of the flora, trees, plants, leaves, bark and berries for food, tools, herbal medicine and religious practices. The information is usually collected from Elders of the community and by excursions on-site to complete the information to further situate the specific information using a Global Positional System (GPS).

Whether the study is done by graduates of a Traditional Land Use Study program, such as is offered at Red Crow Community College on the Kainai Reserve in southern Alberta or by consultants in the field, the information gathered will serve to enrich the body of knowledge about that community. Its contribution to the community's patrimony and understanding of itself over time is considerable. By encouraging community members to remember traditional activities in the region, their memory is put into play, and notable spots are noted, while other historical sites and events, sometimes almost forgotten, are recalled and localized. Burial sites, sacred sites, or even sites prized for hunting or fishing or for medicinal plants can be noted, and the knowledge about them can be gathered from various informants. All of these activities confirm and increase the collective knowledge about these places and the lifeways of the community.

A TUS done before a developer steps in can protect a traditional sacred site from being unintentionally desecrated or destroyed. A sacred grove in which a pipeline has been rammed through is not a pretty sight, and to the users of the site, it is a tragedy of irreparable consequences. The education factor works both ways; not only for the developers but also for the community. Knowledge about plant resources and their medicinal value can be increased through these studies. The healing values of plants is still a relatively untapped resource and there is a great potential on those reserve lands where virgin land is still to be found. At Red Crow College on the Kainai Reserve (Treaty 7) in southern Alberta, ethno-botany is part of the curriculum for students embarked on TUS, just as is fire management, fire suppression and hydrology. All of these subjects have a practical application in most First Nations' communities.

These studies can help in the transmission of traditional knowledge and educate about how Indigenous peoples used the land in the past and still do today. The participatory process that is inherent to TUS has many educational benefits, and is an ongoing process. The Study has been best described as a "living document."

One of the more fascinating aspects of this education is its cross-generational quality. When the understanding that has been gained by Elders, not only through their own personal experience, but also through what they have learned through the transmission of knowledge from previous generations, is appreciated as valuable in itself and important to present-day life, this, in turn, stimulates pride, and eagerness to learn more. For example, traditional management of wilderness areas included the regular burning of small meadows in sheltered woodlands in the early spring when the ground was still frozen. Burning was practiced on the edges of the meadows to prevent trees and bushes from crowding into the area. These little meadows provided good pasture for large game and, at the same time, provided potential hunting grounds for hunters who depended on a sure supply of "bush meat." Validating a traditional practice is empowering for those who share the practice, as well as for those who adopt it. The contribution to the local economy can be considerable in more ways than one. Better returns from the hunt can reduce the amount spent on store-bought foods, plus the wild game can be more nutritious. This practice of maintaining hunting grounds can also mean healthier game through improved pasture, thanks to the burning that returns nutrients to the ground. This is a win-win situation, educationally as well as culturally. Hunting can be better understood as a skill to which there are ecological ramifications. When outside concerns seek development, the community can decide as a group how to protect their lands and resources.

TUS information can also assist in the formal education system, whether elementary, secondary or post-secondary. All areas of curriculum can benefit from an infusion of Aboriginal content. This, in turn, will make curriculum more relevant and immediate to Aboriginal students since they can seen the influence of their ancestors on historical events as well as culture and other aspects of traditional life. This kind of content expertise can open up new career paths not simply in the undertaking of TUS but also in work in the natural resource sector, education, law, medicine and other professions.

Web Resources

www.stmnetwork.ca/docs Sustainable Forest Management Network, Research Note Series, No. 26.

www.aseniwuche.com -The official website of the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada provides information about their TUS as well as history.

Albertasource.ca - Alberta Online Encyclopedia Aboriginal Websites and Edukits

Making of Treaty 8

Making of Treaty 8 in Canada's Northwest

On June 21, 1899, just south of present-day Grouard, Alberta, six leaders of the First Nations of Lesser Slave Lake signed a government-prepared document known as Treaty 8. That treaty forever changed land use and development in northern Alberta. Visit our multimedia website and learn more about the events that led to the signing of the treaty, as well as the many cultures and people who came together for this historic event. Rich in text, audio, video, and historic photographs, this site also presents a wealth of information regarding the culture and lifeways of the First Nations and Métis People.


Elder's Voices

Elders' Voices

They are the ones who remember. They are the keepers of knowledge and the living links to the rich and diverse traditions of the past. Explore the stories of Aboriginal Elders, the remarkable men and women who contribute to the community for the sake of their peoples. Read about the tumultuous history of the Aboriginal People before and after the birth of Alberta and the Canadian Nation, learn about the many ways in which Aboriginal Elders help keep culture and tradition alive, and listen to the voices of the Elders as they share their reflections.


Nature's Laws

Nature's Laws

The culture and traditions of Aboriginal Peoples were grounded in a set of laws that shaped physical and spiritual life. Explore this unique system of governance in Nature's Laws, a website especially rich in video footage.


People of the Boreal Forest

People of the Boreal Forest

The People of the Boreal Forest website retraces the footsteps of Terry Garvin who, between 1954 and 2000, recorded in text and photographs the lives of traditional Aboriginal hunters and trappers living in Canada's northwest boreal forest. Garvin's material, which has been published in Carving Faces, Carving Lives: People of the Boreal Forest, serves as the foundation of this website, and tells the story of ancient peoples in a changing north.


Métis in Alberta

Métis in Alberta

The Métis in the province have kept strong and resilient, united by a unique past. In 1982, the Métis were acknowledged as an Aboriginal People in the Constitution, and, today, they continue to be known for their independence and their contributions to the Canadian mosaic. Explore this fully bilingual website to learn more about the rich history and the culture and life ways of a nation that has helped shape this province into what it is today.


Methodist Missionaries In Alberta

Methodist Missionaries In Alberta

Find out about Methodism in Canada as an aspect of the settlement of the Canadian West. The missionaries came to spread the faith but also became tools for government policy in relation to Aboriginal People. This legacy, good and bad, is explored.


Heritage of the Mighty Peace

Heritage of the Mighty Peace

Did you know that the Peace River region has a rich cultural heritage that dates back 11,500 years? This website will guide you through the diverse history of this area by presenting the stories of the earliest inhabitants who helped shape it - including the First Peoples, fur traders, the Métis, and missionaries - to the creation of settlements and industry, such as the establishment of the Peace River community and the building of the Alaska Highway.


Alberta: How The West Was Young

Alberta: How The West Was Young

Join in a discovery of the early history of Alberta going back centuries. From the First Peoples, who made their home on the prairie lands more than 11,000 years ago, to the Métis, who bridged the old and new worlds, this site explores Aboriginal history from the pre-contact era through to the fur trade.


St. Vincent and St. Paul

St. Vincent and St. Paul

The fur trade era brought Francophone fur traders to northern Alberta, giving birth to Métis communities. Missionary orders, such as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, came next, followed by settlers who made permanent homes on the plains. Explore the history of the Métis as grounded in the history and dynamics of two of Alberta's most prominent French communities, St. Vincent and St. Paul, in this fully bilingual website.


Alberta: Home, Home On The Plains

Alberta: Home, Home On The Plains

In the latter half of the 19th century, as more and more settlers made their way to the prairie lands, the life of the Aboriginal Peoples of the plains began to change. Discover the settlement era in Alberta by exploring this multimedia-rich site.


The Missionary Oblates

For the Life of the World: The Missionary Oblates

This site explores the 19th Century French missionary order that still serves in Aboriginal communities in Western and Northern Canada. Learn more about the vocation of these early missionaries by exploring three photographically rich online exhibits.


Treaty 7

Treaty 7

his website explores the making of Treaty 7 through text, historic photographs, audio, video and contextual information, as well as exploring the culture and lifeways of First Nations people.


Treaty 6

Treaty 6
This website explores the making of Treaty 6 through text, historic photographs, audio, video and contextual information, as well as exploring the culture and lifeways of First Nations people

Aboriginal Edukits


First Nations Contributions Edukit

First Nations Contributions Edukit

The achievements and significant contributions of Aboriginal Peoples have changed the societal landscape throughout Alberta and Canada in many ways. The spirit of the Aboriginal Contributions Edukit is to introduce students to the many contributions of First Nations people in areas such as the Arts, Music, Theatre, Science and Technology, Sports and Recreation as well as Politics. Awareness of the extent of Aboriginal contributions empowers young people and encourages their social development.


Language and Culture Edukit

Language and Culture Edukit

Today, many Aboriginal children do not communicate in their first languages. In some communities, it is only the Elders who speak the language. Recognizing the critical importance of Aboriginal Languages, the Aboriginal Language and Culture Edukit emphasizes the importance of language to culture and traditional education.


Origin and Settlement Edukit

Origin and Settlement Edukit

Explore Aboriginal origin and settlement patterns across Canada with a focus on Alberta. Stories of Aboriginal origin and settlement are central themes and provide students with a wealth of text, images, audio (including oral histories) and video resources. An examination of specific Aboriginal communities - including the Cree, Dene, Beaver, Métis and Blackfoot - traces the evolution of Aboriginal Peoples from nomadic tribes to dynamic communities settled across the province.


Spirituality and Creation Edukit

Spirituality and Creation Edukit

The Cree, Dene, Beaver and Blackfoot peoples of Treaty areas 6, 7, and 8 share many values and traditions. However, each has a unique view of creation and spirituality. Aboriginal values and beliefs are resilient, and spirituality is central to the continuing growth and survival of Aboriginal communities. The sacred underpins all aspects of life. The Aboriginal Spirituality and Creation Edukit recognizes Aboriginal creation stories, teaches students to respect Aboriginal spirituality in all that it encompasses.


Health and Wellness Edukit

Health and Wellness Edukit

The Elementary section of the Health and Wellness Edukit provides focus upon traditional Aboriginal medical knowledge, which came from detailed knowledge of the world around them. The Secondary section gives an overview of the residential schools imposed as a tool for cultural manipulation. Two additional topics are the processes and activities to support social, cultural, and emotional health in traditional First Nations and the emergent Métis nation. Included are resource selections, biographies, glossary, timelines, visual resources, and activities. The Teacher Zone provides background material and possible instructional activities linked to the current Alberta Social Studies Program.


Culture and its Meaning Edukit

Culture and its Meaning Edukit

Aboriginal Peoples in Alberta and across Canada possess a rich history and heritage. Understanding Aboriginal identity as it relates to culture is important for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples alike. Through the Aboriginal Culture and Its Meaning Edukit, students explore how Aboriginal People used and continue to use traditions, symbols, practices, events and objects to express their identity. Active participation by students in diverse activities promotes learning and ultimately contributes to their overall understanding of Aboriginal People and communities in Alberta.


Sport and Recreation Edukit

Sport and Recreation Edukit

The Elementary section of the Sport and Recreation Edukit provides focus upon the heritage of Aboriginal cultural and social activities. It introduces contemporary Aboriginal athletes and games. The Secondary section provides resources about traditional gatherings of First Nation groups and their festivities. Included are resource selections, biographies,glossary, timelines, visual resources, and activities. The Teacher Zone provides background material and possible instructional activities linked to the current Alberta Social Studies Program.


Leadership Edukit

Leadership Edukit

The Elementary section of the Leadership Edukit provides focus upon the groups and confederacies in traditional First Nations groups throughout Canada. Here are resources to help understand the way conflicts were resolved and how leaders are role models for their culture. The Secondary section gives an overview of the development of accommodation with the government of Canada and how the traditional groups dealt with conflict. It introduces contemporary First Nations and Métis leaders and organizations. Included are resource selections, biographies, glossary, timelines, visual resources, and activities. The Teacher Zone provides background material and possible instructional activities linked to the current Alberta Social Studies Program.


Alex Decoteau Edukit

Alex Decoteau Edukit

A long-distance runner, World War I veteran, Canada's first Aboriginal police officer and an Olympic athlete, Alex Decoteau is a local hero of legendary proportions. The Alex Decoteau Edukit was created by the Heritage Community Foundation to support the Alex Decoteau Run, developed by the City Centre Education Project in Edmonton. The Project provides inner-city children, many of whom are Aboriginal, with access to a range of activities that are common in middle class schools.


People of the Boreal Forest Edukit

People of the Boreal Forest Edukit

The People of the Boreal Forest Edukit developed by the Heritage Community Foundation. This Edukit is intended to provide a range of information and actiities that highlight and promote an understanding of the People who live and work in the Boreal Forest region of Alberta.

In the Teacher Zone, you will find Boreal Forest-specific lesson plans dealing with the Forest, its People, and its Traditions.

The Student Zone contains photographs, audio and video samples, textual information, and various activities dealing with the topics above.

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