Worldviews and human-animal relations: Critical perspectives on bison-human relations among the Euro-Canadians and Blackfoot

  • Oetelaar G
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Abstract

Researchers generally study human-animal relations in terms of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists or urbanites but few have explored the relationship between humans and the same animal across cultures. In this paper, I examine the relationship between humans and bison in the world of Euro-Canadians and the cosmos of the Blackfoot. Although both groups perceived the bison as a valuable resource and implemented conservation strategies to ensure its survival, their respective attitudes toward this species reflected very different worldviews. To Euro-Canadians and western researchers, the bison are perceived as being a part of nature, and thus human-animal relations change in tandem with the changing perceptions of the natural environment. To the Blackfoot people, humans are part of nature as are bison, and therefore, human-animal relations involve direct interactions between sentient beings.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Blackfoot
  • Euro-Canadians
  • Human-animal relations
  • bison
  • worldviews

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Authors

  • Gerald A. Oetelaar

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