chapter  12
16 Pages

Indigenous modes of ownership

Reopening the case for communal rights in Greenland
ByPelle Tejsner

This chapter reviews the historical evidence for the various notions of Inuit territorial rights and, specifically, the community or communal conceptualisations of ownership and property rights, in the context of contemporary field studies. It assesses the cultural differences at work in the various interpretations of the post-colonial encounter between local stakeholders, multinational oil and mineral companies, and the Greenlandic authorities. Integrated strategies for long-term land, sea and resource management in Greenland's offshore areas will be best achieved through due recognition of indigenous customary ownership in the coastal zone including the offshore islands, reefs, mulls and similar environments that continue to feature as backdrop both to indigenous coastal subsistence and to the sea-ice eco-systems. In the Arctic, local systems of tenure and the constituent land, water and sea-ice ecosystem, are often at odds with encroaching developments, which, it can be argued, erode these and concomitantly 'could render the system unworkable.