Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Michelene E. Pesantubbee

Abstract

With the removal of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) from the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2012, several states legalized wolf hunting as part of wildlife management programs and the protection of livestock. However, the legalization of wolf hunting has created much conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in the Great Lakes region. Many Anishinaabeg, or Ojibwe, in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan object to the state-sanctioned wolf hunting because of their long-standing religious and ecological relationship to wolves as relatives. In the Anishinaabe creation story, the Creator Gitchi Manitou sent Ma'iingan, or Wolf, as a brother and companion to the original human, where the lives of Anishinaabe peoples and wolves would forever become intertwined.

While the wolf hunting conflict appears to be one between religion and the broader secular state, it is a complex issue, involving historical religious conceptions of land and power among Anishinaabe and non-Indigenous Americans. Power and traditional ecological knowledge in Anishinaabe culture originates from non-human sources, where humans must establish relationships with other-than-human beings to survive and achieve bimaadiziwin, or "the good life." In a bimaadiziwin framework, wolves are a source of power, knowledge, and well-being for humans, suggesting that they and other non-human beings are valid models of potential ways in which humans may develop ecological models and environmental relations. A methodology based on Indigenous environmental theory and non-human power may provide a broader and more inclusive framework for environmental conflicts, incorporating the roles of all the beings that are indigenous in a certain area. In my thesis, I will show how the wolf-hunting conflict in the Great Lakes region is an example of clashing hierarchical and non-hierarchical systems of relations and knowledge, and explore how an Anishinaabe wolf-based epistemology and ontology is a valid non-hierarchical ecological model for the Great Lakes region and beyond.

Public Abstract

With the removal of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) from the United States Endangered Species List in 2012 throughout most of the contiguous United States, several states legalized wolf hunting as part of wildlife management programs and the protection of livestock. However, the legalization of wolf hunting has created much conflict between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in the Great Lakes region. Many Anishinaabeg, or Ojibwe, in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan object to the state-sanctioned wolf hunting because of their long-standing religious and ecological relationship to wolves as relatives. In the Anishinaabe creation story, the Creator Gitchi Manitou sent Ma’iingan, or Wolf, as a brother and companion to the original human, where the lives of Anishinaabe peoples and wolves would forever become intertwined.

The wolf hunting conflict is a complex issue, involving historical religious conceptions of land and power among Anishinaabe and non-indigenous Americans. Power and traditional ecological knowledge in Anishinaabe culture originates from nonhuman sources, where humans must establish relationships with other-than-human beings to survive and achieve bimaadiziwin, or “the good life.” Wolves are just one of the beings humans may establish relations with to achieve bimaadiziwin, suggesting that they and other non-human beings are valid models of potential ways in which humans may develop ecological models and environmental relations. With impending global climate change and ecological crises, I will explore how an Anishinaabe wolf-based way of knowing and being is a valid approach to ecology in the Great Lakes region and beyond.

Keywords

publicabstract, Environment, Hunting, Knowledge, Ojibwe, Religion, Wolves

Pages

viii, 97 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 93-97).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Katherine Anne Usik

Included in

Religion Commons

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