Lutsel Make a Deal
Canadian government, Natives agree to create massive national park
The Canadian government and a tiny Native tribe have agreed to work together to create an 8.3 million acre national park in the Northwest Territories. Three decades ago, the Lutsel K’e Dene tribe turned down a similar proposal, fearing national-park designation would interfere with hunting rights for their main food source, caribou. Now, however, they welcome park protection, which will make the area, almost four times the size of Yellowstone, off-limits to burgeoning diamond and uranium mining interests. “The people of this community have a very, very close connection to the land,” says tribal representative Stephen Ellis. The Dene hope to call the park Thaydene Nene National Park, meaning “land of the ancestors.” Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose also committed to pushing ahead with an expanded national park system in the larger surrounding area, which conservationists hope will mitigate the effects of an also-planned 800-mile gas pipeline in the region.