Neocolonial Thinking and Respect for Nature: Do Indigenous People have Different Relationships with Wildlife than Europeans?
We respond to Mech (2019) “Do Indigenous American Peoples’ Stories Inform the Study of Dog Domestication” and point out a number of errors and omissions in Mech’s essay. These include: 1) assuming that the behavior of all wild wolves is the same, and can be characterized according only to Mech’s personal experience; 2) assuming that the domestication of wolves took place in only a single location at one time (14,000 yrs BP); 3) misrepresenting the statements and findings of other scholars; 4) assuming that all wolves that have ever encountered humans have experienced persecution; and 5) dismissing all accounts of interactions with wolves by Indigenous Americans. The last of these is particularly egregious and seems to represent a form of neocolonial thinking, in which only accounts and findings by Europeans are considered to be acceptable evidence. Mech’s own work on Ellesmere Island seems to support the idea that wolves can be curious and unthreatening to humans. We suggest that this might be the only actual time Mech interacted with true Canis lupus. In addition, Mech’s statements on wolf attacks and the significance of rabies are shown to be misleading. As a result, Mech’s work, especially his questioning of the validity of Indigenous knowledge, which often provides crucial insights into some aspects of ethnobiological research, represents a critique of methods employed by scholars within the discipline of ethnobiology, whereas, as a wildlife biologist, Mech seems to lack knowledge of the principles of ethnobiology.
Alessa, L. N. 2009. What Is Truth? Where Western Science and Traditional Knowledge Converge, in The Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics, edited by M. S. T. Williams, pp. 246–251. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
Barsh, R. L. 2000. Taking Indigenous Science Seriously. In Biodiversity in Canada: Ecology, Ideas, and Action, edited by S. A. Bocking, pp. 152–173. Broadview Press, Toronto, Canada.
Barsh, R. 2016. Coast Salish Woolly Dogs [web page]. Available at: https://www.historylink.org/File/11243. Accessed on January 10, 2020.
Barsh, R. L., and C. Marlor. 2003. Driving Bison and Blackfoot Science. Human Ecology 31:571–593. DOI:10.1023/b:huec.0000005514.93842.91.
Brinton, D. G. 1868. The Myths of the New World / A Treatise on the Symbolism and Mythology of the Red Race of America. Leypoldt and Holt, New York.
Crockford, S. J. 1997. Osteometry of Makah and Coast Salish Dogs. Archaeology Press, Burnaby, Canada.
Fogg, B. R., N. Howe, and R. Pierotti. 2015. Relationships Between Indigenous American Peoples and Wolves 1: Wolves as Teachers and Guides. Journal of Ethnobiology 35:262–285. DOI:10.2993/etbi-35-02-262-285.1.
Hailer, F., and J. A. Leonard. 2008. Hybridization among Three Native North American Canis Species in a Region of Natural Sympatry. PLoS ONE 3:e3333. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0003333.
Hansen Wheat, C., and H. Temrin. 2020. Intrinsic Ball Retrieving in Wolf Puppies Suggests Standing Ancestral Variation for Human-Directed Play Behavior. iScience 23:100811. DOI:10.1016/j.isci.2019.100811.
Jans, N. 2015. A Wolf Called Romeo. Mariner Books, New York.
Johannes, R. E. 1989. Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Collection of Essays. IUCN (World Conservation Union), Gland, Switzerland.
Leathlobhair, M. N., A. R. Perri, E. K. Irving-Pease, K. E. Witt, A. Linderholm, J. Haile, O. Lebrasseur , C. Ameen, J. Blick, A. R. Boyko, S. Brace, Y. Nunes Cortes, S. J. Crockford, A. Devault, E. A. Dimopoulos, M. Eldridge, J. Enk, S. Gopalakrishnan, K. Gori, V. Grimes, E. Guiry, A. J. Hansen, A. Hulme-Beaman, J. Johnson, A. Kitchen, A. K. Kasparov, Y. Kwon, P. A. Nikolskiy, C. Peraza Lope, A. Manin, T. Martin, M. Meyer, K. Noack Myers, M. Omura, J. Rouillard, E. Y. Pavlova, P. Sciulli, M. S. Sinding, A. Strakova, V. V. Ivanova, C. Widga, E. Willerslev, V. V. Pitulko, I. Barnes, M. T. P. Gilbert, K. M. Dobney, R. S. Malhi, E. P. Murchison, G. Larson, and L. A. F. Frantz. 2018. The Evolutionary History of Dogs in the Americas. Science 361:81–85. DOI:10.1126/science.aao4776.
Lewontin, R. 2001. The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Linnell, J. D. C., R. Andersen, Z. Andersone, L. Balciauskas, J. C. Blanco, L. Boitani, S. Brainerd, U. Breitenmoser, I. Kojola, O. Liberg, J. Loe, H. Okarma, H. C. Pedersen, C. Promberger, H. Sand, E. J. Solberg, H. Valdmann, and P. Wabakken. 2002. The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans. Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning, Trondheim, Norway. Available at: https://mobil.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/2002.Review.wolf.attacks.pdf. Accessed on January 1, 2020.
Mech, L. D. 2013. Minnesota Wolf 2407: A Research Pioneer. In Wild Wolves We Have Known: Stories of Wolf Biologists Favorite Wolves, edited by R. P. Thiel, A. C. Thiel, and M. Strozewski, pp. 216–225. International Wolf Center, Minneapolis, MN.
Mech, L. D. 2019. Do Indigenous American Peoples’ Stories Inform the Study of Dog Domestication? Ethnobiology Letters 10:69–75. DOI:10.14237/ebl.10.1.2019.1474.
Mech, L. D. 2020. Dave Mech: The Personal Website of L. David Mech [web page]. Available at: http://davemech.com/. Accessed on April 23, 2020.
Pierotti, R. 2011. Indigenous Knowledge, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York and London.
Pierotti, R., and B. Fogg. 2017 The First Domestication: How Wolves and Humans Co-evolved. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Sacks, J. J., L. Sinclair, J. Gilchrist, G. C. Golab, and R. Lockwood. 2000. Breeds of Dog Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998. Journal of the American Coates Medical Association 217:836–43. DOI:10.2460/javma.2000.217.836.
Schledermann, O., and K. M. McCullough. 2003. Late Thule Culture Developments on the Central East Coast of Ellesmere Island. Danish Polar Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Schlesier, K. H. 1987. The Wolves of Heaven: Cheyenne Shamanism, Ceremonies, and Prehistoric Origins. Civilization of the American Indian 183. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.
Shipman, P. 2015. The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Thiel, R. P., A. C. Thiel, and M. Strozewski. 2015. Wild Wolves We Have Known: Stories of Wolf Biologists Favorite Wolves. International Wolf Center, Minneapolis, MN.
Velasco-Villa, A., M. R. Mauldin, M. Shi, L. E. Escobar, N. F. Gallardo-Romero, I. Damon, V. A. Olson, D. G. Streicker, and G. Emerson. 2017. The History of Rabies in the Western Hemisphere. Antiviral Research 146:221–232. DOI:10.1016/j.antiviral.2017.03.013.
vonHoldt, B. M., J. P. Pollinger, D. A. Earl, J. C. Knowles, A. R. Boyko, H. Parker, E. Geffen, M. Pilot, W. Jędrzejewski, B. Jędrzejewska, V. Sidorovich, C. Greco, E. Randi, M. Musiani, R. Kays, C. D. Bustamante, E. A. Ostrander, J. Novembre, and R. K. Wayne. 2011. A Genome-wide Perspective on the Evolutionary History of Enigmatic Wolf-like Canids. Genome Research 21:1294–1305. DOI:10.1101/gr.116301.110.
Walker, B. L. 2005. The Lost Wolves of Japan. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder, eds. 1993. Mammalian Species of the World, 2nd edition. Smithsonian Institute Press, Baltimore, MD.
Wilson, P. J., S. K. Grewal, F. F. Mallory, and B. N. White. 2009. Genetic Characterization of Hybrid Wolves Across Ontario. Journal of Heredity 100:S80–S89. DOI:10.1093/jhered/esp034.
Copyright (c) 2020 Raymond Pierotti, Brandy Raelene Fogg
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain ownership of the copyright for their content and grant Ethnobiology Letters (the “Journal”) and the Society of Ethnobiology right of first publication. Authors and the Journal agree that Ethnobiology Letters will publish the article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits others to use, distribute, and reproduce the work non-commercially, provided the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal are properly cited.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
For any reuse or redistribution of a work, users must make clear the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
In publishing with Ethnobiology Letters corresponding authors certify that they are authorized by their co-authors to enter into these arrangements. They warrant, on behalf of themselves and their co-authors, that the content is original, has not been formally published, is not under consideration, and does not infringe any existing copyright or any other third party rights. They further warrant that the material contains no matter that is scandalous, obscene, libelous, or otherwise contrary to the law.
Corresponding authors will be given an opportunity to read and correct edited proofs, but if they fail to return such corrections by the date set by the editors, production and publication may proceed without the authors’ approval of the edited proofs.