Harvey Feit is Professor of Anthropology at McMaster University, Canada, and has held visiting appointments at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Laboratiore d'Anthropologie Sociale (Paris), University of Alaska (Anchorage), and McGill University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1979. He is North American editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Encyclopedia of Contemporary Hunters and Gatherers, he is a former President of the Canadian Anthropology Society, was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, he was a Killam Post-doctoral Scholar (Canada Council), a Northern Chair Lecturer at Trent University, and he was founding chair of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. His long-term field research with James Bay Cree focuses on the dialectic between interpretations of nature and environmental practices, and on the post-colonial transformations of Cree society. He has consulted extensively with indigenous peoples from across Canada, and in Australia and Alaska. His nearly three dozen papers include: "Hunting and the Quest for Power. The James Bay Cree and Whitemen in the Twentieth Century," in Native Peoples: The Canadian Experience, 2nd ed., ed. R. B. Morrison and C. R. Wilson (Toronto: Oxford, 1995); and, "The Construction of Algonquian Hunting Territories: Private Property as Moral Lesson, Policy Advocacy and Ethnographic Error," in Colonial Situations, ed. G. W. Stocking, Jr., (Madison: Wisconsin, 1991).
Abstract of paper given at
Indigenous Traditions and Ecology
James Bay Cree hunting rituals are embedded in everyday practices of hunting and the daily production of subsistence in ways that embody metaphors of social reciprocity and respect. Environmental knowledge and hunting metaphors are key to limiting harvests of game animals, facilitating and legitimating decisions about social access to land and wildlife, restraining social conflicts and enhancing dialogues. These processes extend beyond Cree society as elders and spokespersons use hunting metaphors and biblical references -- such as calling the land a "garden" -- to communicate Cree understandings to outsiders, both those who are degrading the lands and those who would help the Cree to resist.