216 pages, 8 illustrations
In Producing Predators, Michael D. Wise argues that contestations between Native and non-Native people over hunting, labor, and the livestock industry drove the development of predator eradication programs in Montana and Alberta from the 1880s onward. The history of these anti-predator programs was significant not only for their ecological effects, but also for their enduring cultural legacies of colonialism in the Northern Rockies.
By targeting wolves and other wild carnivores for extermination, cattle ranchers disavowed the predatory labor of raising domestic animals for slaughter, representing it instead as productive work. Meanwhile, federal agencies sought to purge the Blackfoot, Salish-Kootenai, and other indigenous peoples of their so-called predatory behaviors through campaigns of assimilation and citizenship that forcefully privatized tribal land and criminalized hunting and its related ritual practices. Despite these colonial pressures, Native communities resisted and negotiated the terms of their dispossession by representing their own patterns of work, food, and livelihood as productive. By exploring predation and production as fluid cultural logics for valuing labor, rather than just a set of biological processes, Producing Predators offers a new perspective on the history of the American West and the modern history of colonialism more broadly.
"Producing Predators is an interesting, well-written, and informative account of the Northern Rockies ecosystem [...] Specialists will find it a well-executed study of colonialism in the American West."
– Adam Sowards, director of the Institute for Pacific Northwest Studies at University of Idaho
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Michael D. Wise is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Texas, USA.