Producing Predators: Wolves, Work, and Conquest in the Northern Rockies (Paperback)
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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 antipredator 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.
About the Author
Michael D. Wise is an associate professor of history at the University of North Texas.
"An extraordinarily powerful narrative that will leave readers with a renewed appreciation of the profundity of the northern Rockies' environmental transformation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."—Carol Medlicott, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
"Part history and part cultural anthropology, Producing Predators is yet another reminder that Native Americans had vastly divergent perspectives than their colonizers about the place of humans in their environments. Those differences resulted in profoundly devastating consequences for themselves and their world."—Eric Mogren, Environmental History
"Through historical and ecological detail, Wise places an admirable focus on the actual animals involved in these interchanges."—Jessica Landau, Native American and Indigenous Studies
"Producing Predators should be on the short list for scholars interested in further exploring the tensions embedded in Western history, particularly the convoluted intersections between labor, race, and ecology that Wise so deftly uncovers in his first book."—Frank Van Nuys, Annals of Wyoming
"This book will be of great interest to environmental historians, historical geographers, and scholars who examine human-animal relations through time. . . . Much more than simply another book on wolves, Wise offers an analysis which is part environmental history and part account of the specificities of colonialism in the Rockies."—Stephanie Rutherford, H-Environment
“Producing Predators excels in its positioning of work as a useful tool to understand the complex contours of human-animal relations in the nineteenth-century West.”—Karen Jones, History: Journal of the Historical Association
“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
“An academic historian, Wise is especially insightful in his descriptions of the ways that environmental practices gain cultural legitimacy as aspects of larger ideologies about assimilation, economics, and labor.”—Sarah E. McFarland, American Indian Quarterly