Concluding and Implementing Land Claim and Self-Government Agreements



  • Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (1992)

Agreement Type

  • Regional, comprehensive land claim agreement (land and resources agreement)


  • Gwich'in Tribal Council
  • Government of Canada
  • Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)

Map of the Settlement Region








On April 22, 1992, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), and the Government of Canada signed the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA) and accompanying implementation plan. The GCLCA took effect on December 22, 1992. 

Under the GCLCA, the Gwich’in received title to 22,422 square kilometres of land in the Northwest Territories (NWT) and 1,554 square kilometres of land in the Yukon.  The Gwich'in have title to 6,158 square kilometres of the subsurface, including mines and minerals, of the land that they own within the NWT.  The communities of Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic are identified as Gwich’in communities under the GCLCA.

In the settlement of their claim, the Gwich’in also received $141 million in tax-free capital transfers over a 15-year period. A $7.4 million capital transfer payment was made to the Gwich’in Tribal Council on the proclamation of the Federal Government's Gwich’in Land Claim Settlement Act. Additional payments were made on each anniversary of the signing of the GCLCA. The Gwich'in also receive an annual share of resource royalties collected by government from resource development in the Mackenzie Valley.

Under the GCLCA, the Gwich’in have guaranteed wildlife harvesting rights, including the exclusive right to harvest fur bearers throughout the Gwich'in Settlement Area. The Gwich'in have guaranteed representation on institutions of public government established to manage wildlife and regulate land, water, and the environment in the Gwich’in Settlement Area.

The GCLCA also provides for the negotiation of self-government.  The GTC, GNWT and Canada are currently negotiating a self-government agreement that will create a regional Aboriginal government for Gwich’in citizens only.  This form of self-government is not public and is sometimes referred to as an exclusive Aboriginal government model.

Gwich'in Tribal Council

Established in 1992, the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) is a designated Gwich’in organization that represents Gwich’in participants enrolled in the GCLCA in the Mackenzie-Delta, Northwest Territories and across Canada. The objectives of the GTC are to:

  • protect and preserve the rights, interest and benefits of the Gwich’in in reference to their use, ownership and management of lands, waters, and resources in the Gwich’in Settlement Area;
  • retain, preserve and enhance the traditional and cultural values, customs and language of the Gwich’in in a changing society;
  • develop and promote economic, social, educational and cultural programs that will enable the Gwich’in to become self-sufficient and full participating members in a global society;
  • uphold the rights, interest and benefits of the Gwich’in in reference to the Constitution Act, Treaty 11 and the GCLCA; and
  • receive, preserve and enhance the capital and the lands and other benefits transferred to the Gwich’in pursuant to the GCLCA signed on April 22, 1992.

For further information about the Gwich'in Tribal Council click here to visit their website.

Gwich'in Comunities

  • Aklavik
  • Ft. McPherson
  • Inuvik
  • Tsiigehtchic

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (GCLCA)?
The GCLCA is a modern treaty that provides certainty and clarity with respect to ownership and use of land and resources in the Gwich’in Settlement Area.

2. Where is the Gwich’in Settlement Area?
The Gwich’in Settlement Area comprises an area of approximately 57,000 square kilometres in the north-western corner of the NWT with the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to the north/northeast, the Sahtu Settlement Area to the south/southeast and the Yukon Territory to the west.  The four Gwich’in communities are Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic.

3. What rights and benefits related to land and resources did the Gwich’in receive under the GCLCA?
The Gwich’in received fee simple title to 22,422 square kilometres of land in the NWT and 1,554 square kilometres of land in the Yukon.  Included in that total, the Gwich’in also own 6,158 square kilometres of subsurface, including mines and minerals that may be found to exist upon or under these lands.  The Gwich’in also received $141 million paid over 15 years and an annual share of the mineral royalties generated from the production of resources in the Mackenzie Valley.

4. Does the GCLCA also include self-government?
No, however chapter 5 of the GCLCA provides for the future negotiation of self-government agreements appropriate to the unique circumstances of the Gwich’in and in conformity with the Constitution of Canada.

5. Who is eligible to be a participant of the GCLCA?
A person is eligible to be enrolled as a participant of the GCLCA if they are a Canadian citizen and are Gwich’in as defined in accordance with the GCLCA.  A person is also eligible if they are a Canadian citizen of Aboriginal ancestry, are resident in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, and are accepted by the community acceptance process.

6. What subject matters are included in the GCLCA?
Volume 1 of the GCLCA contains 28 chapters addressing the following matters:
• Eligibility and Enrolment
• Self-government
• Financial Payments
• Resource Royalties
• Economic Measures
• Wildlife Harvesting and Management
• Gwich’in Lands
• Access to Gwich’in Lands
• Water Rights and Management
• Subsurface Resources
• Land and Water Regulation
• Heritage Resources

Volume 2 contains the description of lands to be transferred to the Gwich'in to become Gwich'in lands.

7. How is wildlife managed in the Gwich’in Settlement Area?
Although government retains the ultimate jurisdiction for wildlife and wildlife habitat, the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board was created as the main organization responsible for wildlife management in the Gwich’in Settlement Area.  The board was established to act in the public interest and is comprised of an equal number of Gwich’in and government nominees.


Amendment to the Comprehensive Land Claim