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There are approximately 2,400 participants in the Gwich'in Land Claim, with 60% of the people living in the four communities of the Gwich'in Settlement Area. Aklavik (population 727) is a mixed community of Gwich'in and Inuvialuit, while Inuvik (population 3,296) has a mixed population of Gwich'in, Inuvialuit and non-aboriginals. The two predominantly Gwich'in communities are Fort McPherson (population 878) and Tsiigehtchic (population 162).

Gwich'in live in an area that includes north-east Alaska, the northern Yukon and the north-western part of the Northwest Territories. Two of the original Gwich'in groups are found in the Gwich'in Settlement Area. The Gwichya Gwich'in live primarily in Tsiigehtchic, and the Teetl'it Gwich'in live primarily in Fort McPherson. Gwich'in in Aklavik and Inuvik have formed their own bands in the past 20 years: the Ehdiitat Gwich'in in Aklavik and the Nihtat Gwich'in in Inuvik.

The Gwich'in Settlement Region

The Gwich'in Land Claim was settled in 1992 for the Gwich'in Settlement Region. The Gwich'in Settlement Region is made up of the Gwich'in Settlement Area, the Primary Use Area and the Secondary Use Area (see map). The Gwich'in Settlement Area is entirely in the Northwest Territories and is approximately 56,935 km2. The Planning Board is responsible for land use planning in the Gwich'in Settlement Area.

Where in Canada?

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Both the Primary and Secondary Use Areas are in the Yukon Territory. The Primary Use Area (21,988 km2) encompasses much of the watershed of the Peel River. It is an overlap area between the Nacho N'yak Dun of Mayo and the Teetl'it Gwich'in of Fort McPherson. The Secondary Use Area (11,456 km2) is a traditional use area in the Richardson Mountains. The three main groups that use the area are the Vuntut Gwitchin of Old Crow, the Teetl'it Gwich'in of Fort McPherson and the Ehdiitat Gwich'in of Aklavik. The responsibility for land use planning in the Primary and Secondary Use Areas falls to the Yukon Land Use Planning Council. The Yukon Transboundary Agreement states that the Yukon Land Use Planning Council will consult with the Planning Board on any land use planning initiatives in the Primary and Secondary Use Areas. A planning commission for the Peel River watershed, which includes most of the Primary Use Area, is expected to be established in 2004.

The Gwich'in Settlement Area is bordered by the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to the north, the Sahtu Settlement Area to the southeast and the Yukon Territory to the west. In the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, community conservation plans have been developed in place of Land Use Plans. Gwich'in settlement lands in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region are addressed in the conservation plans as the Planning Board has no jurisdiction in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. In the Sahtu Settlement Area, the Sahtu Land Use Planning Board have published a preliminary draft Land Use Plan.


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