Where the Wild Horses Roam: The Cross-Cultural Debate over the Fate of Wild Horses on Yakama Tribal Lands
The horse has been recognized as an integral part of the Yakama people‘s culture for the better part of the last two centuries. However, in recent decades, the wild horse population on Yakama tribal lands has significantly increased, leading to a polarizing debate over their management. The debate over the management of wild horses on Yakama tribal lands provides a useful lens through which to examine the current state of Native-Settler interactions. In this essay, I draw on the works of scholars Rifkin, Wolfe, Furness and Rosaldo to examine the complexity of enacting Native sovereigntyin the presence of animal advocates motivated by imperialist nostalgia thatemploy repressive authenticity grounded in the larger frontier narrative. Through the analysis of scholarly work and public commentary, I show how animal advocates use these ideas cumulatively as means to justify the persecution of the Yakama people by imagining themselves as the protagonists in the struggle of civilization vs. savagery. Finally, I weave in my own personal experiences with horses and suggest that we explore multiple perspectives that take seriously the agency of the horse, while considering our relations with non-human animals.