Observing Subtleties: Traditional Knowledge and Optimal Water Management of Lake St. Martin

Myrle Traverse, Richard Baydack


Lake St. Martin First Nation is an Anishinaabe community
situated northwest of the Narrows at Lake St. Martin
in central Manitoba. The land around Lake St. Martin and
traditional activities have been affected by flooding since
the early 1960’s, soon after construction of the Fairford
Dam on Lake Manitoba. This research explored the historical
water situation at Lake St. Martin; examined the First
Nations perspective on water level changes over time;
and analysed water resource data for the region. Although
analysis did not show with statistical significance that the
flood control system and its operation are the cause of the
flooding at Lake St. Martin, water level changes were evident.
First Nations perspectives on the situation, however,
revealed that subtle changes in the environment resulting
from the operation of the water control system could
be identified by traditional, common sense observation.
Despite the lack of statistical significance that was due to
the large variation in the data and which is characteristic
of these types of large complex water systems, First Nations
have known through observation of subtle changes
that their environmental landscape has deteriorated as a
result of the water structure.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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