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Lecture 4

ANTH 206 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Chisasibi, Focus Group

Course Code
ANTH 206
Adam Fleischmann

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- Beliefs of the Cree of eastern James Bay say that it is animals, not people who
control the success of the hunt.
- Hunters should be respectful toward animals
- Cree social values such as reciprocity apply to human-animal
- Western world makes nature depersonalized
- The Cree people of Chisasibi survived 3 centuries of fur trade as essentially
- After industrial society happened, their lifestyle came to maintain an uneasy balance
between being independent hunter-fishers and being rural Americans in the dominant
- This reading is based on focus group discussions with a volunteer, self-selected
working group of senior hunters.
- The aim is to educate the youth and to strengthen traditional practice
- In the belief system or religious ideology of the Cree, the living environment is a
community of beings that are supernatural as well as natural.
- These beings possess what Westerners might consider extranormal powers, they
have spirits.
- 3 Cree beliefs to show their unique worldview:
1. It is the animals, not people, who control the success of the hunt
2. Hunters and fishers have obligations to show respect to the animals to ensure
a productive hunt
3. A continued proper use is necessary for maintaining production of animals
- These obligations are combined in social obligations
- In Cree views, humans cannot control the animals and environment
- The Cree believe that animals know everything humans do, they are aware of
hunters activities.
- The hunter is lucky if the animal decides to make himself available
- The Cree notion of success or being a good hunter is not measured by the size
of the hunters kill, it is measured by the ability of the hunter to get what he needs
- It is an obligation of the more successful hunters to share their catch with the unlucky
- A stranger in an area will have poor hunting success, because the Cree say the land
is unfamiliar with him
- The success of a hunter peaks with age, but then it is expected to decline
- His sons are thought to inherit it, it is a cycle
- The disappearance of animals is thought to be related to the willingness of animals to
be hunted
- The Cree believe that animals who disappear for a time sooner or later come back by
themselves, not as a consequence of management by humans
- The Cree say the main reason for showing respect to animals is that humans and
animals are related, they share the same Creator.
- They have many rituals related to respect
- Hunters should not boast about their abilities
- The killing should be done quickly and simple.
- The gun size should be appropriate for the size of an animal.
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