One summer evening in 1918, a leopard wandered into the gardens of an Indian palace. Roused by the alarms of servants, the prince’s eldest son and his entourage rode elephant-back to find and shoot the intruder. An exciting but insignificant vignette of life under the British Raj, we may think. Yet to the participants, the hunt was laden with symbolism. Carefully choreographed according to royal protocols, recorded by scribes and commemorated by court artists, it was a potent display of regal dominion over men and beasts alike. Animal Kingdoms uncovers the far-reaching cultural, political, and environmental importance of hunting in colonial India.
Julie E. Hughes explores how Indian princes relied on their prowess as hunters to advance personal status and solidify power. Believing that men and animals developed similar characteristics by inhabiting a shared environment, they sought out quarry—fierce tigers, agile boar—with traits they hoped to cultivate in themselves. Largely debarred from military activities under the British, they also used the hunt to establish meaningful links with the historic battlefields and legendary deeds of their ancestors.
Hunting was not only a means of displaying masculinity and heroism, however. Indian rulers strove to present a picture of privileged ease, perched in luxuriously outfitted shooting boxes and accompanied by lavish retinues. Their interest in being sumptuously sovereign was crucial to elevating the prestige of prized game. Animal Kingdoms will inform historians of the subcontinent with new perspectives and captivate readers with descriptions of its magnificent landscapes and wildlife.
The Plateau region of the Pacific Northwest witnessed the emergence, persistence, and decline of a diverse array of hunter-gatherer communities during the course of a past several thousand year period. Consequently, the region contains an archaeological record of groups who lived at times in permanent villages, employed complex resource procurement and processing strategies, participated in wide-ranging trade networks, and maintained social organizations featuring high degrees of social inequality.
Complex Hunter-Gatherers presents a broad synthesis of the archaeology of the Plateau, inclusive of the Columbia and Fraser-Thompson drainages. The contributors seek to further our understanding of the nature of prehistoric social organization, subsistence practices, and lifeways of those living on the Plateau, and to expand upon this foundation to understand the evolution and organization of complex hunter-gatherers in general.
Whether fulfilling subsistence needs or featured in stories of grand adventure, hunting loomed large in the material and the imagined landscape of the nineteenth-century West. Epiphany in the Wilderness explores the social, political, economic, and environmental dynamics of hunting on the frontier in three “acts,” using performance as a trail guide and focusing on the production of a “cultural ecology of the chase” in literature, art, photography, and taxidermy.
Using the metaphor of the theater, Jones argues that the West was a crucial stage that framed the performance of the American character as an independent, resourceful, resilient, and rugged individual. The leading actor was the all-conquering masculine hunter hero, the sharpshooting man of the wilderness who tamed and claimed the West with each provident step. Women were also a significant part of the story, treading the game trails as plucky adventurers and resilient homesteaders and acting out their exploits in autobiographical accounts and stage shows.
Epiphany in the Wilderness informs various academic debates surrounding the frontier period, including the construction of nature as a site of personal challenge, gun culture, gender adaptations and the crafting of the masculine wilderness hero figure, wildlife management and consumption, memorializing and trophy-taking, and the juxtaposition of a closing frontier with an emerging conservation movement.
The University Press of Colorado gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University toward the publication of this book.
The Olmec who anciently inhabited Mexico's southern Gulf Coast organized their once-egalitarian society into chiefdoms during the Formative period (1400 BC to AD 300). This increase in political complexity coincided with the development of village agriculture, which has led scholars to theorize that agricultural surpluses gave aspiring Olmec leaders control over vital resources and thus a power base on which to build authority and exact tribute.
In this book, Amber VanDerwarker conducts the first multidisciplinary analysis of subsistence patterns at two Olmec settlements to offer a fuller understanding of how the development of political complexity was tied to both agricultural practices and environmental factors. She uses plant and animal remains, as well as isotopic data, to trace the intensification of maize agriculture during the Late Formative period. She also examines how volcanic eruptions in the region affected subsistence practices and settlement patterns. Through these multiple sets of data, VanDerwarker presents convincing evidence that Olmec and epi-Olmec lifeways of farming, hunting, and fishing were driven by both political and environmental pressures and that the rise of institutionalized leadership must be understood within the ecological context in which it occurred.
On 13 August 1990 members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe filed a lawsuit against the State of Minnesota for interfering with the hunting, fishing, and gathering rights that had been guaranteed to them in an 1837 treaty with the United States. In order to interpret the treaty the courts had to consider historical circumstances, the intentions of the parties, and the treaty's implementation. The Mille Lacs Band faced a mammoth challenge. How does one argue the Native side of the case when all historical documentation was written by non- Natives? The Mille Lacs selected six scholars to testify for them. Published here for the first time, Charles Cleland, James McClurken, Helen Tanner, John Nichols, Thomas Lund, and Bruce White discuss the circumstances under which the treaty was written, the personalities involved in the negotiations and the legal rhetoric of the times, as well as analyze related legal conflicts between Natives and non- Natives. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor delivered the 1999 Opinion of the [United States Supreme] Court.
“The Forest of Taboos may be considered among the most important books ever written by an anthropologist. Valeri writes superbly, and this book makes a fundamental contribution to one of the most central lines of thought in twentieth-century anthropology. He shows that taboo is finally comprehensible.”—John Stephen Lansing, University of Michigan
“The Forest of Taboos is no conventional ethnography, more an extended meditative essay on its subject, erudite, rich in ideas and data, wide-ranging in its theoretical inspiration, and self-consciously literary in form. It is a fitting memorial to an author whose life was so tragically cut short.”—Roy Ellen, University of Kent at Canterbury
This eloquent and profound book, completed by Valerio Valeri shortly before his death in 1998, contends that the ambivalence felt by all humans about sex, death, and eating other animals can be explained by a set of coordinated principles that are expressed in taboos. In elegant prose, Valeri evokes the world of the Huaulu, forest hunters of Indonesia. The hidden attractions of the animal world, which invades the human world in perilous ways, he shows, also delineate that which the Huaulu regard as most human about themselves.
Around a campfire in the woods through long hours of night, men used to gather to listen to the music of hounds' voices as they chased an elusive and seemingly preternatural fox. To the highly trained ears of these backwoods hunters, the hounds told the story of the pursuit like operatic voices chanting a great epic. Although the hunt almost always ended in the escape of the fox—as the hunters hoped it would—the thrill of the chase made the men feel "that they [were] close to something lost and never to be found, just as one can feel something in a great poem or a dream."
Gray Ghosts and Red Rangers offers a colorful account of this vanishing American folkway—back-country fox hunting known as "hilltopping," "moonlighting," "fox racing," or "one-gallus fox hunting." Practiced neither for blood sport nor to put food on the table, hilltopping was worlds removed from elite fox hunting where red- and black-coated horsemen thundered across green fields in daylight. Hilltopping was a nocturnal, even mystical pursuit, uniting men across social and racial lines as they gathered to listen to dogs chasing foxes over miles of ground until the sun rose. Engaged in by thousands of rural and small-town Americans from the 1860s to the 1980s, hilltopping encouraged a quasi-spiritual identification of man with animal that bound its devotees into a "brotherhood of blood and cause" and made them seem almost crazy to outsiders.
The most detailed and well-illustrated study of material culture for any northern Athabascan language group to date, Gwich’in Athabascan Implements reproduces pre- and early post-contact tools that are historically important to the Athabaskan people. A long-term collaboration between anthropologist Thomas O’Brien and Athabascan elder David Salmon, this volume provides more than one hundred one-to-one sketches of a wide variety of implements, many of which are no longer commonly found in use.
In the 1990s a nationwide crime wave overtook Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivoirian police failed to control the situation, so a group of poor, politically marginalized, and mostly Muslim men took on the role of the people’s protectors as part of a movement they called Benkadi. These men were dozos—hunters skilled in ritual sacrifice—and they applied their hunting and occult expertise, along with the ethical principles implicit in both forms of knowledge, to the tracking and capturing of thieves. Meanwhile, as Benkadi emerged, so too did the ethnic, regional, and religious divisions that would culminate in Côte d’Ivoire’s 2002–07 rebellion.
Hunting the Ethical State reveals how dozos worked beyond these divisions to derive their new roles as enforcers of security from their ritual hunting ethos. Much as they used sorcery to shape-shift and outwit game, they now transformed into unofficial police, and their ritual networks became police bureaucracies. Though these Muslim and northern-descended men would later resist the state, Joseph Hellweg demonstrates how they briefly succeeded at making a place for themselves within it. Ultimately, Hellweg interprets Benkadi as a flawed but ingenious and thoroughly modern attempt by non-state actors to reform an African state.
Duck hunting has changed greatly since the days of unlimited duck kills, as the limit of fifty ducks a day established in 1902 has fallen to the present three. A legitimate hunter now, Dale Hamm learned the art of market hunting—taking waterfowl out of season and selling them to restaurants—from his father during the l920s. During the l930s and l940s, he kept his family alive by market hunting. At the peak of his career, Hamm poached every private hunting club along the Illinois River from Havana to Beardstown.
After market hunting died out, Hamm became a legendary and almost respected—albeit controversial—character on the Illinois backwaters. He was eventually invited to hunt on the same clubs from which he had once been chased at the point of a shotgun. He hunted with judges, sheriffs, and the head of undercover operations for the Illinois Department of Conservation, all of whom knew of his reputation. He passed on to these hunting partners a lifetime of outdoor knowledge gained from slogging through mud, falling through ice, hunting ducks at three o’clock in the morning, dodging game wardens, and running the world’s only floating tavern.
"I always said if anyone ever cut open one of us Hamms, all they’d find was duck or fish," Hamm once said of his family. Now in his eighties, Hamm still carries a pellet from a shotgun in his chin to remind him of a shotgun blast that ricocheted off the water and into his face. Bakke notes that it is appropriate that a man who spent his life with a shotgun in his hands should carry a bit of buckshot wherever he goes.
Everyone who ever met Dale Hamm has a story about him. His own story is that of a one-of-a-kind character who, in his later years, used his considerable outdoor savvy to conserve the natural resources he once savaged. "His time and kind are gone," Bakke notes, "and there will never be another like him."
This book will be of interest to anyone who has ever been hunting—or who enjoys reading about colorful people and times that exist no more.
Between 1867 and 1875, George Armstrong Custer contributed fifteen letters under the apt pseudonym Nomad to the New York-based sportsman's journal Turf, Field and Farm. Previously available only in a collector's typescript edition, the Nomad letters offer valuable insight into the character of the Boy General as he gives expression to his abiding love for hunting, horses, and hounds.
Vivid accounts of days in the field after buffalo and deer alternate with letters that attest to Custer's passion for Kentucky thoroughbreds and trotters and his devotion to his favorite hunting dogs. Moreover, the letters show Custer as a student of literature who constandy alluded to works of fiction and drama and who loved to quote poetry as he self-consciously honed his skills as a writer.
The Nomad letters also open the way to controversy since three of the letters written in 1867, as Brian Dippie's careful annotations make clear, offer a strikingly different account of Custer's ill-starred induction into Indian fighting than the accepted version recorded five years later in his memoirs, My Life on the Plains. Composed only a few months after the abortive Hancock Expedition that led to Custer's court-martial and suspension from rank and pay for one year, the Nomad letters are full of a passion and venom absent from My Life on the Plains. They provide an immediate response to the events of 1867 that will interest all students of the Western Indian wars and of Custer's fascinating career.
If I had let myself be ruled by reason alone, I would surely be lying dead somewhere or another in the Siberian frost.
The Siberian taiga: a massive forest region of roughly 4.5 million square miles, stretching from the Ural Mountains to the Bering Sea, breathtakingly beautiful and the coldest inhabited region in the world. Winter temperatures plummet to a bitter 97 degrees below zero, and beneath the permafrost lie the fossilized remains of mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, and other ice age giants. For the Yukaghir, an indigenous people of the taiga, hunting sable is both an economic necessity and a spiritual experience—where trusting dreams and omens is as necessary as following animal tracks. Since the fall of Communism, a corrupt regional corporation has monopolized the fur trade, forcing the Yukaghir hunters into impoverished servitude.
Enter Rane Willerslev, a young Danish anthropologist who ventures into this frozen land on an idealistic mission to organize a fair-trade fur cooperative with the hunters. From the outset, things go terribly wrong. The regional fur company, with ties to corrupt public officials, proves it will stop at nothing to maintain its monopoly: one of Willerslev’s Yukaghir business partners is arrested on spurious charges of poaching and illegal trading; another drowns mysteriously. When police are sent to arrest him, Willerslev fears for his life, and he and a local hunter flee to a remote hunting lodge even deeper in the icy wilderness. Their situation turns even more desperate right away: they manage to kill a moose but lose the meat to predators and begin to starve, frostbitten and isolated in the frozen taiga.
Thus begins Willerslev’s extraordinary, chilling tale of one year living in exile among Yukaghir hunters in the stark Siberian taiga region. At turns shocking and quietly moving, On the Run in Siberia is a pulse-pounding tale of idealism, political corruption, starvation, and survival (with a timely assist from Vladimir Putin) as well as a striking portrait of the Yukaghirs’ shamanistic tradition and their threatened way of life, a drama unfolding daily in one of the world’s coldest, most enthralling landscapes.
Although rarely seen in the wild, the otter is admired for its playful character and graceful aquatic agility, which were established in the popular imagination through books like Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water. This, however, is just a very small part of their story—throughout history the otter has also been widely hunted for its fur and flesh. In Otter, human geographer Daniel Allen reveals how the animal’s identity has been shaped by this variety of human interactions.
As Allen explains, otters, while feared by some communities, were hunted to near extinction by others—killed for their valuable pelts in the north Pacific and chased with hounds for sport in Britain. In contrast, Allen describes how Native Americans revered the otter and how indigenous fishermen in parts of Asia trained otters to assist them. Sadly, now all thirteen species of otter are considered threatened, and their survival is by no means certain.
In this wide-ranging look at the otter, Allen incorporates anecdotes from folklore, sports, popular literature, media, and conservation studies in order to unravel this complicated cultural history. Otter isa lively book that offers a new way of thinking about this admired and endangered animal.
The Alaskan frontier tempted fur traders, whalers, salmon fishers, gold miners, hunters, and oilmen to take what they could without regard for long-term consequences. Wildlife species, ecosystems, and Native cultures suffered, sometimes irreparably. Damage to wildlife and lands drew the attention of environmentalists, including John Muir, who applied their influence to enact wildlife protection laws and set aside lands for conservation. Alaska served as a testing ground for emergent national resource policy in the United States, as environmental values of species and ecosystem sustainability replaced the unrestrained exploitation of Alaska's early frontier days.
Efforts of conservation leaders and the territory's isolation, small human population, and late development prevented widespread destruction and gave Americans a unique opportunity to protect some of the world's most pristine wilderness.
Enhanced by more than 100 photographs, Pioneering Conservation in Alaska illustrates the historical precedents for current natural resource disputes in Alaska and will fascinate readers interested in wildlife and conservation.
Biological warfare is a menacing twenty-first-century issue, but its origins extend to antiquity. While the recorded use of toxins in warfare in some ancient populations is rarely disputed (the use of arsenical smoke in China, which dates to at least 1000 BC, for example) the use of "poison arrows" and other deadly substances by Native American groups has been fraught with contradiction. At last revealing clear documentation to support these theories, anthropologist David Jones transforms the realm of ethnobotany in Poison Arrows.
Examining evidence within the few extant descriptive accounts of Native American warfare, along with grooved arrowheads and clues from botanical knowledge, Jones builds a solid case to indicate widespread and very effective use of many types of toxins. He argues that various groups applied them to not only warfare but also to hunting, and even as an early form of insect extermination. Culling extensive ethnological, historical, and archaeological data, Jones provides a thoroughly comprehensive survey of the use of ethnobotanical and entomological compounds applied in wide-ranging ways, including homicide and suicide. Although many narratives from the contact period in North America deny such uses, Jones now offers conclusive documentation to prove otherwise.
A groundbreaking study of a subject that has been long overlooked, Poison Arrows imparts an extraordinary new perspective to the history of warfare, weaponry, and deadly human ingenuity.
Each year nearly a quarter million visitors come to Reelfoot Lake, also known as “The Earthquake Lake,” to enjoy its natural splendor. With its twenty-five thousand acres of shimmering water, haunting cypress swamps, and two-hundred-year-old lily marshes, the lake is rich in natural beauty and natural history. Yet, despite being one of the most unique lakes in the country—this natural body of water formed during the New Madrid earthquakes in the early nineteenth century—it is relatively understudied. Biologist and environmentalist Jim W. Johnson grew up on the lake and experienced its natural and cultural history firsthand. As a wildlife biologist, he spent much of his career managing Reelfoot and its surrounding area. Reelfoot Lake: Oasis on the Mississippi is part personal remembrance, part guidebook, and part cautionary tale on river and wetland ecology, conservation, and land management, written by an author intimately knowledgeable about the lake and life on it. By exploring Reelfoot’s ancient and recent history, Johnson illuminates the lives of generations of people who lived and thrived in the floodplain. For those looking to navigate the waters of the lake, this book will make travel through the bayous and canals much easier and more pleasurable. And its discussions about the lake’s ecology will bolster voices calling for the protection and preservation of Reelfoot and other wetlands like it.
Accompanied by stunning photography, Johnson’s book is sure to become a useful outdoor guide to Reelfoot Lake and will increase readers’ appreciation for wetlands.
In November, countless families across Texas head out for the annual deer hunt, a ritual that spans generations, ethnicities, socioeconomics, and gender as perhaps no other cultural experience in the state. Rick Bass’s family has returned to the same hardscrabble piece of land in the Hill Country—“the Deer Pasture”—for more than seventy-five years. In A Thousand Deer, Bass walks the Deer Pasture again in memory and stories, tallying up what hunting there has taught him about our need for wildness and wilderness, about cycles in nature and in the life of a family, and particularly about how important it is for children to live in the natural world.
The arc of A Thousand Deer spans from Bass’s boyhood in the suburbs of Houston, where he searched for anything rank or fecund in the little oxbow swamps and pockets of woods along Buffalo Bayou, to his commitment to providing his children in Montana the same opportunity—a life afield—that his parents gave him in Texas. Inevitably this brings him back to the Deer Pasture and the passing of seasons and generations he has experienced there. Bass lyrically describes his own passage from young manhood, when the urge to hunt was something primal, to mature adulthood and the waning of the urge to take an animal, his commitment to the hunt evolving into a commitment to family and to the last wild places.
What brought the ape out of the trees, and so the man out of the ape, was a taste for blood. This is how the story went, when a few fossils found in Africa in the 1920s seemed to point to hunting as the first human activity among our simian forebears—the force behind our upright posture, skill with tools, domestic arrangements, and warlike ways. Why, on such slim evidence, did the theory take hold? In this engrossing book Matt Cartmill searches out the origins, and the strange allure, of the myth of Man the Hunter. An exhilarating foray into cultural history, A View to a Death in the Morning shows us how hunting has figured in the western imagination from the myth of Artemis to the tale of Bambi—and how its evolving image has reflected our own view of ourselves.
A leading biological anthropologist, Cartmill brings remarkable wit and wisdom to his story. Beginning with the killer-ape theory in its post–World War II version, he takes us back through literature and history to other versions of the hunting hypothesis. Earlier accounts of Man the Hunter, drafted in the Renaissance, reveal a growing uneasiness with humanity’s supposed dominion over nature. By delving further into the history of hunting, from its promotion as a maker of men and builder of character to its image as an aristocratic pastime, charged with ritual and eroticism, Cartmill shows us how the hunter has always stood between the human domain and the wild, his status changing with cultural conceptions of that boundary.
Cartmill’s inquiry leads us through classical antiquity and Christian tradition, medieval history, Renaissance thought, and the Romantic movement to the most recent controversies over wilderness management and animal rights. Modern ideas about human dominion find their expression in everything from scientific theories and philosophical assertions to Disney movies and sporting magazines. Cartmill’s survey of these sources offers fascinating insight into the significance of hunting as a mythic metaphor in recent times, particularly after the savagery of the world wars reawakened grievous doubts about man’s place in nature.
A masterpiece of humanistic science, A View to a Death in the Morning is also a thoughtful meditation on what it means to be human, to stand uncertainly between the wilderness of beast and prey and the peaceable kingdom. This richly illustrated book will captivate readers on every side of the dilemma, from the most avid hunters to their most vehement opponents to those who simply wonder about the import of hunting in human nature.
Despite declining stocks worldwide and increasing health risks, artisanal whaling remains a cultural practice tied to nature’s rhythms. The Wake of the Whale presents the art, history, and challenge of whaling in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, based on a decade of award-winning fieldwork.
Sightings of pilot whales in the frigid Nordic waters have drawn residents of the Faroe Islands to their boats and beaches for nearly a thousand years. Down in the tropics, around the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, artisanal whaling is a younger trade, shaped by the legacies of slavery and colonialism but no less important to the local population. Each culture, Russell Fielding shows, has developed a distinct approach to whaling that preserves key traditions while adapting to threats of scarcity, the requirements of regulation, and a growing awareness of the humane treatment of animals.
Yet these strategies struggle to account for the risks of regularly eating meat contaminated with methylmercury and other environmental pollutants introduced from abroad. Fielding considers how these and other factors may change whaling cultures forever, perhaps even bringing an end to this way of life.
A rare mix of scientific and social insight, The Wake of the Whale raises compelling questions about the place of cultural traditions in the contemporary world and the sacrifices we must make for sustainability.
Publication of this book was supported, in part, by a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
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