Where are the fish? Gwich’in fishing and the question of cultivation in the Mackenzie Delta, NWT
Robert Wishart (University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
Fish camps are not given much attention in accounts of Gwich’in human-animal relationships. I explain why fishing has been neglected historically situating fishing as an important part of the Canadian fur trade and placing the fish camp as central to Gwich’in sensibilities about social life because of the relationships that these camps afford.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will introduce the importance of fishing to Gwich’in ideas of sustainability while attempting to reconcile why fishing and the ethnography of the fish camp has gone largely unnoticed in academic accounts of Gwich’in human-animal relationships. The paper puts forth an explanation for why fishing has been neglected, arguing that anthropology aided in this oversight through an over-emphasis on Gwich’in relationships with key megafauna which, in addition to underplaying the importance of fish, missed out on the cultivation of multispecies relationships. It also historically situates fishing as an important, but largely underestimated, part of the Canadian fur trade and returns to an older anthropological observation that the fish camp has been central to Gwich’in sensibilities about social life throughout history because of the relationships that these camps and their associate activities afford.
Objects, persons or property? Revisiting human-animal relations in the Andes, Amazonia and the American Arctic