Making, following and keeping trails in the Mackenzie Delta
Franz Krause (University of Cologne)
Paper short abstract:
This presentation provides some preliminary reflection on the ways the Inuvialuit and Gwich'in inhabitants of the Canadian Mackenzie Delta make and use trails.
Paper long abstract:
Trailmaking is a quintessential activity for the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit inhabitants of the Mackenzie Delta in Arctic Canada. It is necessary for visiting camps and towns, hunting, trapping and other livelihood activities, and for developing and performing a sense of belonging and identity. This presentation provides some preliminary reflection on the ways these people and the animals they hunt and trap make and use trails. It discusses three observations: 1) very often, making trail involves following existing lines in the landscape, including river courses, seismic lines or animal tracks. 2) Therefore, once a trail is made, it invites others to use it too, both human and non-human, which is of strategic importance in trapping, but can cause tensions with other travellers. 3) Trails need regular maintenance during the season and over the years, which makes trailmaking an ongoing activity. These observations lead to a reflection on how inhabiting the Mackenzie Delta involves a combination of following others and finding viable paths.
Lines on the land: mobility and stasis in northern extractive landscapes