Hunting Caribou: Subsistence Hunting along the Northern Edge of the Boreal Forest

Hunting Caribou: Subsistence Hunting along the Northern Edge of the Boreal Forest

Hunting Caribou: Subsistence Hunting along the Northern Edge of the Boreal Forest

Hunting Caribou: Subsistence Hunting along the Northern Edge of the Boreal Forest

Synopsis

Denésuliné hunters range from deep in the Boreal Forest far into the tundra of northern Canada. Henry S. Sharp, a social anthropologist and ethnographer, spent several decades participating in fieldwork and observing hunts by this extended kin group. His daughter, Karyn Sharp, who is an archaeologist specializing in First Nations Studies and is Denésuliné, also observed countless hunts. Over the years the father and daughter realized that not only their personal backgrounds but also their disciplinary specializations significantly affected how each perceived and understood their experiences with the Denésuliné.

In Hunting Caribou, Henry and Karyn Sharp attempt to understand and interpret their decades-long observations of Denésuliné hunts through the multiple disciplinary lenses of anthropology, archaeology, and ethnology. Although questions and methodologies differ between disciplines, the Sharps' ethnography, by connecting these components, provides unique insights into the ecology and motivations of hunting societies.

Themes of gender, women's labor, insects, wolf and caribou behavior, scale, mobility and transportation, and land use are linked through the authors' personal voice and experiences. This participant ethnography makes an important contribution to multiple fields in academe while simultaneously revealing broad implications for research, public policy, and First Nations politics.

Excerpt

The primary purpose of this work is to present observational material about subsistence hunting among the Denésuliné of the northern Canadian Subarctic. There is surprisingly little observational material on subsistence hunting in the professional literature. With luck, this work will stimulate others to publish detailed accounts of aboriginal hunting and other subsistence activities before that knowledge vanishes. As it is unlikely that many readers will have any direct experience of subsistence hunting, we have attempted to present our material in sufficient detail to provide a solid sense of what subsistence hunting involves and how it is accomplished as well as to show how it connects to other aspects of Denésuliné life. This work developed out of the attempts of a father and daughter to communicate with each other about their experience and understanding of the Denésuliné as the daughter progressed through school. Henry is a social anthropologist and ethnologist. Karyn is Denésuliné and an archaeologist who has developed a speciality in First Nations Studies. Over the years, as her interests and expertise developed, it became increasingly clear to us just how greatly our disciplinary specializations affected how we saw and understood our experiences of the Denésuliné and created difficulties in communicating past our specialized disciplinary knowledge.

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