Tourism, a Social, Cultural and Economic Issue for First Nations: The Experience of the Community of Mashteuiatsh
Isabelle Genest, President, Société d’histoire et
d’archéologie de Mashteuiatsh, Québec
Much like many French-speaking communities, the First Nations of the Americas have to employ creative means and innovative strategies to address the challenges associated with protecting and spreading awareness of their language and culture. Forty years ago this year, the community of Mashteuiatsh in the Lac St-Jean region, rallied to preserve this collective memory and created the Société d’histoire et d’archéologie (historical and archeological society).
The society's mission is to maintain and protect the Innu's cultural heritage assets, by encouraging their promotion and transmission through research and shared knowledge, while at the same time respecting traditional values. Over the years, the Société has come to reconcile its original purpose with the demands of an increasing number of tourists. How was this organization able to renew and reinvigorate this rapidly changing sector of activity, and do it in a way that respects the customs and traditions which are still very much alive within the community of Mashteuiatsh?