Purdue University Graduate School
2022.12.08 Camille_Griffith.pdf (1.5 MB)


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posted on 2022-12-08, 15:07 authored by Camille L GriffithCamille L Griffith


Free-roaming dogs on Native American Reservations are called rez dogs on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD. Understanding the human-rez dog relationship is needed to develop best management practices. As a member of the Oglala Lakota nation and a resident of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I used a combination of western scientific methods and Lakota ways of knowing to research how rez dogs are related to their human caretakers on the Pine Ridge Reservation. First, I determined how they are related to humans spatially. To do this, I installed trail cameras at 73 sites distributed within four zones around six communities on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I analyzed presence-absence and count data to estimate how human habitat covariates influenced rez dog occurrence and abundance. My results show that rez dog occupancy and abundance is related to human habitation and emphasizes the importance of considering human caretakers when developing best management practices. To investigate how human caretakers may perceive rez dogs and current management practices on the Pine Ridge Reservation, I used semi-structured questionnaires. I distributed surveys to 107 residents at grocery stores and convenience stores within five towns. The survey assessed the communities' perceptions of rez dog overpopulation, and topics related to their attitude toward dogs overall and rez dog sterilization programs. I used ordinal regression to determine if community member demographics, the number of people and dogs in the household, and distance to the veterinary clinic influenced these variables. My results show community members support rez dog sterilization programs and that policymakers should focus on free or low-cost sterilization programs for ambiguously owned rez dogs in conjunction with owned dogs. In addition, these results highlight how the economic disparity and lack of culturally appropriate methods of rez-dog population control prevent effective management of rez dogs. This dynamic is one example of how the settler-colonialism structure continues to negatively impact Native American communities and prevent effective, efficient, and ethical ways to manage rez dogs. I describe how the Lakota ways of knowing can be used to develop best management practices for rez dogs that are culturally appropriate. I describe the seven Lakota values, lessons learned from the Lakota dog creation story, and approaches to Lakota research methodologies. This paper introduces an example of a seven-generation, One Health framework that implements Lakota ways of knowing to establish rez dog management and centers community values, beginning generational healing through Shunka (dog) caretaking. In conclusion, this research describes how rez dogs are related to us spatially, by occupying the same area as us, and how we are related within a social context, with dogs being an indicator of our own well-being as humans. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Patrick Zollner

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Elizabeth Flaherty