Companions in Restoration: Buffalo Ranching as Interspecies and Intercommunity Reconciliation, The Case of Dan O’Brien’s "Wild Idea" / Tom Lynch

Réalisation : 17 juin 2016 Mise en ligne : 17 juin 2016
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Companions in Restoration: Buffalo Ranching as Interspecies and Intercommunity Reconciliation, The Case of Dan O’Brien’s Wild Idea / Tom Lynch, Keynote in International Symposium "Companion Species in North American Cultural Productions", organisé, sous la responsabilité scientifique de Claire Cazajous et Wendy Harding, par le Département d'Études du monde anglophone, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 17 juin 2016.

Inthe European settlement of North America, companion species were an essentialcomponent of the settler-colonial process. As Alfred Crosby and others havedemonstrated, Europeans brought with them a suite of animals and plants fromthe old continent that they utilized both to supplant the Indigenouspopulations and then to reconstruct a neo-European landscape replete withgrasses, shrubs, trees, and domestic animals that were either derived from, or closelyapproximated, European varieties. This process had enormously detrimentaleffects on various native bioregions, at times completely altering theircomposition. One of the most notable examples of this process was thereplacement of native bison by imported European cattle varieties over nearlythe full extent of their original range, resulting in the near extinction ofthe bison by the last years of the 19th century.As iswell known, buffalo were an integral species in the lives of the Nativecommunities of the prairie biogregions of the Great Plains, providingsustenance, shelter, clothing, and a variety of material goods; and the specieswas central to the religious life of most prairie cultures. The animal and thepeople had an intimate, one might say companionate, relationship. Inthe past century, the cattle ranching industry that replaced the bison huntingregime of the Indigenous populations has proven to be difficult to sustainecologically, economically, and socially. This has resulted in renewed effortsto restore bison to some of their historic range, a project that can perhaps beseen as an attempt to renew a companionate relationship between humans andbuffalo on the Great Plains. Inthis talk I examine a number of works of non-fiction, in particular DanO'Brien's two memoirs, Buffalo for theBroken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch and Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a DifficultLand, that recount efforts to supplant the settler-colonial cattle industrywith a restored economy/ecology based on bison. I pay particular attention to severalelements:1) the efforts to prevent buffalo raised on ranches for slaughter from becomingindustrialized like the cattle industry. That is, can ranched buffalo maintainmuch of their wildness and species autonomy?2)the ecologically positive cascading effect of replacing cattle with buffalo,which seems to result in an increase in biological diversity and richness.3)the similar potentially positive effect on familial and social relations ofbuffalo restoration.4)the possibility of enhanced connections between European settler-colonists andIndigenous communities based on a mutual interest in buffalo ranching.Inshort, my paper seeks to address the question of the degree to which buffaloranching can be seen as an effort at reconciliation between settler-colonistsand both native species and Indigenous communities. Can the companionaterelationship between people and bison be restored on the Geat Plains, and ifso, with what rippling consequences?

Langue :
Nathalie MICHAUD (Réalisation), Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès-campus Mirail (Production), SCPAM / Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès-campus Mirail (Publication)
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Tous droits réservés à l'Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès-campus Mirail et aux auteurs.
Citer cette ressource:
UT2J. (2016, 17 juin). Companions in Restoration: Buffalo Ranching as Interspecies and Intercommunity Reconciliation, The Case of Dan O’Brien’s "Wild Idea" / Tom Lynch. [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 26 mai 2022)

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