Dene Hunting Organization in Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories: “Ways We Help Each Other and Share What We Can”
Social inquiry into hunting dynamics in northern indigenous communities in Canada has tended to focus on hunting individually or in small kinship groups, although the role of more formal community hunts is increasingly recognized. Descriptive data are limited, however, on the mechanisms by which foods harvested on such hunts are shared out. This paper considers whether or not the dynamics of sharing meat differed between a community hunt (September 2009) and a series of household-organized hunts (November 2009) in the K’asho Got’ine Dene community of Fort Good Hope (Radilih Koe), Northwest Territories. We consider how sharing might differ in terms of interactions initiated by a request from a recipient (discussed in other literature as “demand sharing”), versus those initiated by a harvester (“giving”). Results reveal that the number of sharing interactions was similar in each case and represented a substantial portion of the total harvest, but the greater number of requests for meat after the community hunt indicates there was more pressure on the community harvesters’ supply than on household hunters’ supply. At the same time, requests were made especially by elders and those in need, reflecting complex norms of resource management and flexible social networks. This study affirms the continued relevance of Dene norms of sharing within contemporary communities and increases our knowledge of the social dimension of community-based resource management.