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Note: An edited and updated version of my dissertation is available as a book from the University of Toronto Press.
My dissertation is available for download (1MB pdf file).
‘But We Are Still Native People’: Talking about Hunting and History in a Northern Athapaskan Village
My dissertation is a study of hunting in the northern Athapaskan village of Iskut, British Columbia, Canada. Hunting serves as a cultural system uniting Iskut people in a place where ethnic identity is not as easy to identify as outsiders might expect. Moreover, non-natives sometimes suggest that Iskut hunting activities reflect cultural and economic poverty. Still, interest in Iskut knowledge about animals and the land persists in and outside of Iskut. Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is in demand in bureaucratic settings, for example, but Iskut knowledge about food and animals resists easy interpretation. I turn to the ‘ethnography of speaking’ as a way of learning about hunting and of moving beyond the fact-finding often associated with bureaucratic TEK projects. I attend to hunting stories and group history to understand why Iskut people talk about hunting with such passion. Studying talk of hunting and its etiquette reveals a wide range of lived experiences and practices at Iskut Village. It shows how Iskut people draw their history into contemporary resource conflicts. And, it illustrates a cultural system in a place where different family histories exist.