"The Caribou Problem" [work in progress]


A Caribou Crisis befell northern Canada in the 1950s. Like all crises, though, the very nature of this time of danger depended on your point of view. For the Anglo-Canadians who dominated the Canadian Wildlife Service, it was a crisis of overhunting and savagery. For some Aboriginal hunters, it was a crisis of government intervention.

Around 1965 the Canadian Wildlife Service produced and distributed what now looks like a rather bizarre and condescending comic book for Eskimo and Indian* hunters in northern Canada. "A Question of Survival: The Barren-Ground Caribou" was published in both English and Inuktitut.

I initially published an article that reproduces a page from this comic book (Campbell 2003). In this article I explored the concept of 'wanton slaughter' as well as notions of bodily control, savagery, and blood-lust that underpinned the Canadian Wildlife Service's attitude towards Eskimo and Indian hunters.

In the absence of any critical work on this comic book, I present the comic book in its entirety. With its implicit pedagogies and institutional discourses that where aimed at 'managing' wild populations of both Caribou and hunters, this comic book is an important piece of subarctic ephememera.


Thanks to the Canadian Circumpolar Libary at the University of Alberta which maintains an excellent collection of books, articles, reports, as well as a variety of 'grey literature'



    click to see the gallery featuring the comic book

* The names Eskimo and Indian are historically accurate but are now replaced by Inuit and First Nations or simply, Aboriginal. In the case of the Barren-ground caribou, Dene and Inuit were probably the main targets of this comic book.

references cited:

Campbell, Craig A.R. (2003) “A genealogy of the concept of ‘wanton slaughter’ in canadian wildlife biology”. Cultivating Arctic Landscapes: Knowing & Managing Animals in the Circumpolar North. Eds. David G. Anderson and Mark Nutall. New York: Berghahn Books.