Transboundary cultural resources: Sacred wildlife, Indigenous emotions, and conservation decision-making

Authors: , , , ,


For many Indigenous communities in North America, the grizzly bear is a symbol associated with tribal medicine, spirituality, history, and knowledge. Despite its cultural importance to Indigenous communities and also federal trust responsibilities, Indigenous Peoples are rarely consulted in conservation decision-making concerning grizzly bears, and the emotional outcomes of these decisions are poorly understood. In 2017 grizzly bears were removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Drawing from emotional political ecology and emotional geography, we use the concepts of cultural resources and 'networked space' to investigates how conservation decisions about transboundary cultural resources affect the emotions of Indigenous Peoples inside and outside of policy-targeted areas such as Yellowstone. The bears are non-subsistence resources that also carry cultural meanings for people who live beyond their current range. We find that conservation decisions affecting transboundary cultural resources transcend time and space and can have strong emotional consequences for our research participants who live outside of the policy-targeted area. In connection with the psychological dimension of emotional political ecologies, we also find that our participant's emotional responses to the delisting were animated by the historical traumas imposed by living in a colonial state.

Keywords: Conservation, Indigenous, transboundary cultural resources, emotions, wildlife

How to Cite: Corvin, B. , Burnham, M. , Hart-Fredeluces, G. , du Bray, M. & Graves, D. (2023) “Transboundary cultural resources: Sacred wildlife, Indigenous emotions, and conservation decision-making”, Journal of Political Ecology. 30(1). doi: