Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adjusting to Regulation of a Commons

The day after President Obama's State of the Union Address, the blogosphere is buzzing. Alas, there wasn't much to comment on from a commons perspective ... So instead, here's an article with nothing to do with the SOTU.

Today's New York Times profiles a man named Yia Yang who lives in Sacramento and has a radio show about hunting. The article puts an interesting spin on an otherwise seemingly mundane topic by explaining wild game's cultural significance for Hmong men and the challenge of adjusting to the regulation of hunting it.

According to Paul Hillmer, a Minnesota professor quoted in the article, hunting was "a big part of the traditional role for (Hmong) men" back in Laos. Hillmer adds, "The adjustment for Hmong men in this country was getting used to things like private-property boundaries, hunting licenses and regulations."

I grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, so I had many friends whose parents were refugees from Laos. Given the violent clashes between Hmong and white hunters in my home state back in 2007 and 2004, it was especially nice to be reminded of the positive context for hunting.

While hunters may have a bad rep in some parts of the country, due to over-hunting that left some animals endangered or extinct ... in the upper Midwest, hunting is generally seen as both a form of leisure and as necessary to control the deer population. The state determines where and when hunting is permitted -- a form of commons governance similar to the other examples researched by Nobel-winner Elinor Ostrom. In California, where Mr. Yang lives and provides hunting advice to his community, the same regulation occurs with the state relying on volunteers, like Mr. Yang, to teach other hunters about the rules that govern the hunting commons.

It's an interesting article, check it out.

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