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The ecological knowledge of Belcher Island Inuit: A traditional basis for contemporary wildlife co-management

Nakashima, Douglas J.





This thesis focuses upon the traditional ecological knowledge of southeastern Hudson Bay Inuit. It provides a detailed assessment of Inuit use and knowledge of a single species, the Hudson Bay Eider (Somateria mollissima sedentaria). Data collected on Inuit classifications of animals reveal the highly-ordered systems whereby Inuit structure their extensive knowledge of the biological diversity of their environment. A lexicon of Inuktitut terms illustrates the refinement of their anatomical knowledge, while detailed data on one anatomical element, the eider skin, serve to indicate the considerable volume of information lying behind these labeled categories. Furthermore, Inuit knowledge of eider ecology provides exacting biogeographical information and identifies important ecological patterns and processes for the species. These findings run counter to preconceptions about traditional knowledge which linger in the wildlife professionals' milieu. Neither anecdotal, narrowly pragmatic, unverified nor non-ecological, traditional knowledge provides a sound argument for greater Native autonomy in wildlife management.

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