In Nome, Where the Muskoxen Roam … Controversially (
from to on 04 Mar 2024 05:12

In Alaska, residents are negotiating a contentious relationship with muskoxen, which were introduced to the area decades ago without local consent.

One Iñupiaq word for muskox is umiŋmak, a term that refers to the animal’s beard-like coat. The word’s existence speaks to the Iñupiat’s long relationship with muskoxen, which once roamed the Arctic. The decline of muskoxen is often attributed to climatic changes after the last ice age, along with predation and hunting. Around Nome, few, if any, Indigenous stories about the animals survive.

The average visitor to Nome today would never guess that muskoxen were ever ghosts on the landscape. The animals adorn guidebooks and artwork at gift shops and draw wildlife viewers and photographers. With their bulky coats, sloping shoulders, short legs, and upturned horns, it’s not hard to picture them roaming alongside saber-toothed cats, wooly mammoths, and other big-bodied beasts of the Pleistocene. But all the muskoxen around Nome today have ancestors that saw the inside of a train station in New Jersey. Their reintroduction to Alaska was the result of a decades-long campaign by early 20th-century settlers and promoters, one that followed a template used many times over before and since: it was a plan for developing the Arctic, drawn up without the consent of Indigenous people.

#article #biology #history #hoipolloi #policy

#article #biology #history #hoipolloi #inks #policy

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