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UMMA Brown Bag Series: “Nobody Knows the Way of the Caribou”: Rangifer Hunting at 45º North Latitude

Thursday, April 11, 2013
12:00 AM
2009 Ruthven

While caribou hunting structures are well known in the circumpolar region, equivalent features are difficult to investigate further south due to significant changes in sea level and subsequent human activity. The discovery of hunting structures on submerged landforms beneath modern Lake Huron provides a new window into caribou hunting in the mid-latitudes. This presentation will summarize recent findings and consider both the strategies for hunting caribou and the necessary organizational implications for such activities on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge. While many of the features known in the circumpolar region are also present in the mid-latitudes, significant differences are also observed which seem attributable to the seasonal migration of vast caribou herds across the causeway-like setting of the ridge. Oftentimes caribou are characterized as being unpredictable and difficult to intercept as illustrated by the Chipewyan proverb, “No one knows the way of the wind and the caribou”.  The research presented here provides a counterpoint and suggests that, given a particular mix of topography, environment, climate, and animal behavior: hunters can indeed know the way of the caribou.

Ashley K. Lemke, M.A., PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan