Settlers of colonial water governments violated the sovereignty of the natives. With 11 revolutionary fomental claims and self-management agreements, Yukon is the leader in Canada and around the world. Modern Aboriginal state agreements in Canada recognize Aboriginal water rights. Implementation of these agreements increasingly requires forms of “state-like” governance. Umbrella`s final agreement was signed in 1993. It paved the way for individual First Nation agreements and a path of reconciliation and positive change for all Yukoners. Yukon`s claim and self-management agreements are the basis for lasting relationships between our societies, cultures and governments. Yukon First Nations and the waters of their traditional territories are subject to a multitude of socio-political and environmental pressures, including the effects of historical and sustainable colonism, global environmental change and mining activities. These communities are in the process of implementing agreements on administrative autonomy and the claim of modern lands that contain powerful recognitions of indigenous rights and authorities, including the right to “water quality, quantity and flow speed” unchanged in inhabited areas (10 per cent of their traditional territories). Yukon First Nations have real, albeit limited, legal authorities in settlement areas, including the ability to legislate for successors to territorial laws. Through research conducted in partnership with four of Yukon`s First Nations (Carcross/Tagish, Kluane, Tr`ond`k Hwéch`in and White River First Nations), I am studying how these Aboriginal governments involve recognized authorities in modern land rights agreements and self-management agreements to assert their rights and responsibilities to water as more than human relationships. In particular, I am studying the potential for the creation of water legislation in residential areas. I am looking at critical Aboriginal scholarships to study the challenges these communities face and to define new approaches to Aboriginal water policy.
Specifically, I analyze the “state” bureaucracies that First Nations must develop to assert their sovereignty in this context. While these forms of governance are criticized for being unlike traditional forms of governance, I show how First Nations exercise self-determination while strategically controlling these opportunities to protect water in a way they see as consistent with the values, principles and relationships of Aboriginal water policy. Aboriginal legislation is a tool to fulfill its sacred responsibility for water. H… Tribal water codes can teach us about the risks and benefits of legislation.