Indigenous Fiction and The Coding of Ecological Knowledge: Canid Behavioral Ecology

Date and Time: 
Friday, 13 April, 2012 - 15:50 to 16:10
PIEROTTI, Raymond - Ecology and Evokutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lwrence, KS 66045
Brandy Fogg - Indigenous Studies, University of Kansas

Knowledge and belief systems of Indigenous peoples have been denigrated or ignored by Western Science. Coding of such knowledge in stories has been described as Mysticism, which is also dismissive. As a result, indigenous artists and writers have decided to present ecological knowledge through their art. One group of organisms where this knowledge shows unusual insight is the genus Canis, where traditional stories and fictional accounts reveal knowledge of differences in social structure and ecology that Western science either did not recognize or was clearly wrong about, e.g., the Choctaw/Cherokee writer Louis Owens clearly distinguished between the highly social, pack-living gray wolf, lupus, the solitary endangered red wolf, rufus, and the coyote, latrans, recognizing the close relatedness between the latter two forms, which has still not been widely accepted by Western science. I will discuss these and other examples of new and significant knowledge from indigenous stories and art.