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Unfreezing the ArcticScience, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands$
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Andrew Stuhl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226416649

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226416786.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 May 2021

Wild: Taming the Tundra

Wild: Taming the Tundra

(p.61) Chapter Three Wild: Taming the Tundra
Unfreezing the Arctic

Andrew Stuhl

University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates political priorities and scientific practices that ushered in colonial relationships with the western Arctic between 1918 and 1960. It argues that reindeer, a species foreign to North America but common to other regions of the circumpolar basin, became a technology that bureaucrats hoped could convert the idle energy of the tundra into financial, cultural, and political gain. This rhetoric supported and was itself inflected by ecological studies of lichens and grazing, which governmental scientists Alf Erling Porsild and Lawrence Palmer articulated as the basis for animal husbandry economies. Especially as Inuit livelihoods appeared yoked to unpredictable fluctuations in global markets and populations of fur-bearing creatures, reindeer herding was thought to provide a more stable footing for Arctic political economy. Inuit on the Alaskan North Slope and the Mackenzie Delta had different relations with and views of reindeer herding, which can be partially explained by variations in the viability of the fur trade and the ability to avoid governmental intervention.

Keywords:   reindeer, reindeer herding, animal husbandry, fur trade, Lawrence Palmer, Alf Erling Porsild, Mackenzie Delta, ecology, lichens, North Slope

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