• Reindeer, dogs, and horses among the Tozhu reindeer herder-hunters in the Siberian taiga

      Arakchaa, Tayana; Plattet, Patrick; Koester, David; Schweitzer, Peter; Koskey, Michael (2018-12)
      Anthropological studies have typically represented reindeer as the uniquely key domesticated animal species for Siberian people. For Tozhu reindeer herder-hunters, however, such a perspective ignores the important roles of dogs and horses. These species are equally vital and interdependent partners of daily life in the mountainous areas of Tuva where Tozhu people live. Each animal comes with specific characteristics, challenges and benefits that necessitate a multispecies perspective--the reindeer-dog-horse triad of Tozhu hunting and reindeer herding economies. This research completes the picture of how taiga-dwelling Tozhu and the three important animal species co-exist together. It seeks to portray: 1) how the Tozhu reindeer herder-hunters interrelate the role of these animals in hunting and reindeer herding; 2) how their intense crossbreeding of dogs and horses has in turn influenced human-animal relationships; and 3) how humans and animals cooperate with each other to achieve shared goals. An overview of anthropological studies of human-animal relations is presented in Chapter 1 and has revealed that humans and their animals are bound in mutual relations in which humans and animals have reciprocally influenced each other. In discussions of hunting and herding, the basic social concepts of "trust" and "domination," connected to "captivity" and "freedom," have become prominent social concepts for interpreting human-animal relations. In the case of the animals with which Tozhu herder-hunters interact in the taiga, both principles, "trust" and "domination," can be observed, though the widespread idea that animals give themselves to humans is not shared by the Tozhu. Chapter 2 of this thesis provides necessary background on the history of the Tozhu people. Chapter 3 outlines the social organization of reindeer herding and hunting in the Tozhu district of the Tyva Republic and focuses on the history of reindeer herding and hunting during the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, particularly the transition of Tozhu from small to large scale reindeer herding production. Scholars have described this transition as an abrupt change to meat-oriented production. Close scrutiny of the history of Tozhu reindeer herding and hunting reveals that the particularities of the fur trade dictated a gradual shift from small-scale to large-scale reindeer herding in order to provide reindeer hunters and villagers with reindeer to utilize as a means of transportation. Collective farms reconstructed reindeer herding and hunting by introducing new forms and techniques in their economies. Chapter 4 describes the role of reindeer and the nature of human-reindeer relationships among the Tozhu. Chapter 5 focuses on the role of the indigenous breeds of hunting dog, particularly their role in hunting and on crossbreeding during the Soviet era. The chapter also discusses how dog breed, gender, experience, age, and specialization affects hunting. It also examines the stealing and eating of dogs in the Tozhu district. Chapter 6 describes the role of horses in Tyvan ontology and in Tozhu economies. It also discusses crossbreeding during the Soviet and post-Soviet era and how the Tozhu are interfacing with crossbreeds today. Analysis of changes in hunting and reindeer herding organization and the history of dog and horse crossbreeding sheds light on the balancing of human relationships with their animals and animal relationships with their humans. Hunting with dogs, for example, has actually provided a stimulus to domesticate reindeer for riding. The practice of riding allows humans to keep up with the dogs during the search for prey in winter. Tozhu practice also includes maintaining a balance between animal captivity and freedom in order to manage multiple animals successfully. All three species are essential for herder-hunters, and one species cannot be said to be more or less important than the others.