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Nature Environmental Conservation & Protection

Hunters at the Margin

Native People and Wildlife Conservation in the Northwest Territories

by (author) John Sandlos

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2011
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Post-Confederation (1867-), Native American Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2011
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2008
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2007
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Hunters at the Margin examines the conflict in the Northwest Territories between Native hunters and conservationists over three big game species: the wood bison, the muskox, and the caribou. John Sandlos argues that the introduction of game regulations, national parks, and game sanctuaries was central to the assertion of state authority over the traditional hunting cultures of the Dene and Inuit. His archival research undermines the assumption that conservationists were motivated solely by enlightened preservationism, revealing instead that commercial interests were integral to wildlife management in Canada.

About the author

JOHN SANDLOS teaches history at Memorial University of Newfoundland. With doctoral research on northern wildlife, he has devoted much of his research in the past decade to mining history. Dr. Sandlos is the author of Hunters at the Margin: Native People and Wildlife Conservation in the Northwest Territories, and co-editor of the volume, Mining and Communities in Northern Canada: History, Politics and Memory.

John Sandlos' profile page


  • Winner, Clio Award (North), Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award, Forest History Society

Editorial Reviews

As John Sadlos’s book shows, nothing in environmental politics is ever simple….What began as an attempt to preserve a species…inevitably took on the coloration of a social experiment. The book is full of nuggets of interesting information….

Environmental History Journal, Volume 12, Number 4

Professor Sandlos has written a very well-researched text on three major conservation issues. He examines the plight of the Bison, Muskox and Caribou in Canada’s north. The author has examined the questions raised about hunting of these three key species and the development and enforcement of laws relating to them. […] There is a lot of useful and thought provoking material embedded in the text. […] This book makes a significant contribution to the continuing research and debate required to make rational decisions.

Canadian Field-Naturalist, Vol.121

Sandlos offers useful (if tentative) conclusions about the implications of this history for present-day wildlife management and state-aboriginal relations in Canada, showing that history continues to shape the present, and that re-examining history can help illuminate current dilemmas and open new options for future action. Hunters at the Margin is well written, well produced, and a valuable contribution to the ongoing evaluation of the meanings of the North for those who live there, those who are new arrivals, and those for whom it looms large in imagination and expectation.


For those interested in the history of conservation, wildlife management, First Nations, state power and individual agency, Sandlos offers insightful analysis within provocative framework and makes a significant contribution to the literature on conservation in Canada and is enjoyable to read.

Left History, Vol.1, Issue 13, Spring/Summer 2008

This hefty text is a well-written and meticulously researched academic work. Sandlos provides eloquent and exquisite details of the relationship between human and animal. … It is certain to be of interest to readers keen to better understand the politics of northern conservation in Canada, and the conflict between Northern indigenous communities and Southern policy makers.

Alternatives, Vol.34, No.2

Other titles by John Sandlos