ETHNONYMS: Kancho, Kawchodinne, Kah-cho-tinneh, K'atchô-gottinè, Kk ayttchare Ottine, Peaux de Lievre, Rabbit Skins, Tä-nä'-tinne; Bâtards Loucheux (one band), Dene, Tinne, Slave (with other northeastern Northern Athapaskans)
Identification. The Hare refer to themselves as "Ka so gotinè," (which may mean big willow people), or as "gahwié gotinè" (rabbitskin people, which is a recent translation from English). The suffix -gotinè means "the people of"; hare, willow, and arrow have similar roots, and the Hare have been called "the people of" all three. The names "Hare" and "Peaux de Lievre," which Whites have used for over two hundred years, refer to the extreme dependence some Hare Indians placed on the varying hare Lepus americanus for food and clothing.
Location. The Hare live today where they lived when first contacted by Whites: in what is now the Canadian Northwest Territories, north of Great Bear Lake and on both sides of the Mackenzie River. Since 1806, Fort Good Hope, located today at 66°16′ N and 128°38′ W, has evolved from a trading post visited by most Hare Indians several times a year for Economic and, after 1860, religious reasons into the settlement where most of the Hare live today.
Demography. In 1978, 430 Hare Indians were registered on the Canadian Indian band roll at Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake. The first census, in 1827, estimated the Population of the Hare as approximately 300, but by that time they had been strongly affected by epidemic disease from which, apparently, mortality was significant.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Hare speak an Athapaskan language that shares high mutual intelligibility with and differs in only minor dialectical ways from Mountain, Bearlake, and Slavey. Divergence from neighboring Kutchin is sharp with the exception, perhaps, of one enigmatic nineteenth-century band that apparently was a cultural and biological amalgam of Hare and Kutchin—the "ne la gotinè" (end of the earth people or Bâtards Loucheux).
History and Cultural Relations
There is no evidence that the Hare have lived anywhere other than where they are today. Their neighbors are the Kutchin and Inuvialuit or Mackenzie Delta Inuit to the north, the yellowknife to the east, the Slavey and Bearlake to the south, and the Mountain to the west. Relations with these various groups have varied widely: the Hare greatly feared and avoided the Inuit, and they were bullied by the Yellowknife in the fur trade; some Hare Indians were formerly Mountain Indians, and others in the nineteenth century became part of the group then emerging as the so-called Bearlake Indians. Before the early nineteenth century, the Hare were only inDirectly affected by the European fur trade. By 1806, fifteen years after Alexander Mackenzie's voyage of exploration down the river that bears his name, a trading post had been established in the territory of the Hare. From that year on, the Hare participated directly in the trade, and many annually visited Fort Good Hope to exchange pelts and provisions for European goods. In 1859, the Roman Catholic Oblates arrived and several years later built a mission and church for the Hare, who in time became nominal Catholics, many gathering for three religious celebrations each year. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Hare were periodically affected by epidemic diseases.
In 1921, the Hare signed Treaty 11 with Canada. After World War II, the government became involved in almost every aspect of Hare life through health, education, game, and social welfare programs and regulations. The numbers of Whites living among the Hare increased—by 1972, to 50 Whites in a population of about 370 Hare Indians at Fort Good Hope.
In aboriginal days, the Hare most probably lived in bands composed flexibly and on the basis of kinship and affinity. Their sites were located at advantageous fishing and hunting spots, and the bands ranged in size from small to large—the latter if a task demanded cooperation as did the annual hunt for caribou for clothing and food. After European traders came, the activities of the Hare and their camp locations were adjusted to accommodate. In the nineteenth century, one major settlement grew at Fort Good Hope, itself originally positioned and moved several times for the convenience of transportation and the trade; but few Hare Indians lived there for any length of time before 1900.
At Fort Good Hope today are the permanent residences of over 3,509 native people, two missions, the Hudson's Bay Company, and various governmental services—school, Police, nursing station, and administration. In the twentieth century, a major aggregation of Hare at Colville Lake (67°2′ N, 126°5′ W) initially declined because of deaths and Because the store and mission were located at Fort Good Hope. But since 1960 the establishment of a mission and trading post have again made Colville Lake a small permanent independent settlement. The construction of a winter road has eased travel to and from Fort Good Hope.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Traditionally, the Hare were hunters and fishers. Both large and small game and birds were shot with bows and arrows, speared, snared, surrounded, or netted. Formerly, a cooperative August-September hunt for caribou was very important, as was a Second hunt in April. The rest of the year, the Hare fished for lake trout, whitefish, and other species and hunted small game like birds and hares. For some Hare Indians who lived near the Mackenzie River, the dependence on hares was so great that when the population of these ruminants crashed, which occurred cyclically, starvation and on occasion cannibalism were the results. After European fur traders arrived, the Hare adjusted their annual cycle to accommodate trapping: marten, lynx, and mink in winter, beaver and muskrats in late winter and spring. Dogs increased in importance and numbers as fur trapping did. Before 1900, musk-oxen were important to the diet; in recent years, moose have repopulated Hare territory and many are shot. For the last one hundred years, the Hare have supplemented their diet with tea, flour, sugar, and other store-purchased foods.
Today, few Hare Indians depend on the bush alone for fulfilling all their needs, and most spend summer months in town, hoping for fire-fighting jobs. The ideal is to combine wage labor with subsistence activities, including trapping, during the course of the year. Indeed, though the replacement value of fish and game consumed is substantial, the bulk of any person's or family's income is from wage labor or welfare and transfer payments.
Industrial Arts. From wood, roots, caribou and hare skins, sinew, bone, antler, and stone, the aboriginal Hare made and used spruce-framed birchbark canoes, snowshoes, nets and snares, bows and arrows, clothing, baskets in which liquid, with the aid of hot stones, was boiled, scrapers, and other products. Today, store-purchased goods have replaced most of the aboriginal technology. Formerly, some clothing was decorated with porcupine quill weaving; today, silk embroidery and beadwork in floral and geometric designs adorn jackets, vests, moccasins, gauntlets, and mukluks.
Trade. Unlike their neighbors, the Kutchin and the Yellowknife, the Hare were not known to be interested traders or middlemen. Nevertheless, they participated in the trade with European fur traders from the late eighteenth century on and annually brought the skins and meat of caribou and musk-oxen and furs of beavers, martens, and muskrats to Exchange for European goods and, after 1890, tea, flour, and other foods. In the nineteenth century, middlemen Hare Indians traded European goods occasionally with Mackenzie Delta Inuit.
Division of Labor. Although few tasks were the exclusive province of either men or women throughout the historic period, women have tended to be principally responsible for taking care of young children, making clothing, collecting berries, preparing food, drying fish, and pulling toboggans; and men for hunting, fishing, trapping, and making drums. Even today, some women do not handle or use boats on their own because to do so would bring bad luck.
Land Tenure. There is no permanent ownership of land or resources. The Hare have always been able to hunt, fish, and trap where they wish, as long as they feel secure and as long as no one else has habitually used, and plans to continue to use, a specific area. In 1950, the Hare were assigned a game area northwest of Great Bear Lake as their exclusive hunting and trapping area, which represented a fraction of their former range.
Kin Groups and Descent. There is no concrete indication that descent has been other than bilateral, despite certain terminological and marriage patterns linked elsewhere to unilineality. The Hare have used both consanguineal and affinal ties to join a specific residential group, which usually has as a core several people closely related by blood. No descent groups form.
Kinship Terminology. For the traditional Hare, terminology in the first ascending generation was a mixture of bifurcate collateral (females) and bifurcate merging (males). In one's own generation, Iroquois cousin terms were used; and teknonymy was common.
Marriage. Monogamy, perhaps serial, was probably the most common traditional marriage pattern; polyandry, which was sometimes fraternal, occurred, and polygyny, especially sororal, may have been preferred but was uncommon. The Hare observed a nuclear family incest taboo, and marriage proscription extended to parallel cousins. Marriage to cross cousins was preferred. Bride-service was performed, and Initial uxorilocality might be continued or followed by virilocality; bilocality seemed the ultimate pattern. The levirate and, perhaps, the sororate were both observed. Because of missionary influence, polygyny, polyandry, actual cross-cousin marriage, and child betrothal have disappeared. Marriage in adulthood, church ceremony, monogamy, absence of divorce, living out of wedlock with a partner who may be doing the same, and initial uxorilocality and ultimate neolocality are the rule.
Domestic Unit. The nuclear family has always been the basic unit of economic cooperation. The household has always consisted of a nuclear family, of a family extended by bride-service or initial uxorilocality or a widow or widower and adopted child, of a bilateral extended family (usually with a sibling core), or of individuals who have joined each other for some task like hunting, trapping, or trade.
Inheritance. There is no set of rules for inheritance, Perhaps because land and rights are not individually owned. Traditionally, individuals destroyed much of their own property at the death of a relative. Today, property like a cabin is inherited by a spouse, child, close relative who is in need, or a friend.
Socialization. Young children, males more than females, are indulged and treated with affection. Sanction is largely through ridicule; spanking is very rare and occurs only when a child puts himself in danger. Young children begin their attempts to use adult technology at an early age and learn mainly by trial and error and imitation. Today, when children and adolescents are not in school, they are expected to help with a range of increasingly gender-specific household chores. Children enculturate emotional restraint, independence, resourcefulness, flexibility, and reciprocity. Formerly, girls underwent exclusion and observed a number of taboos at menarche. There exists considerable ambivalence today about formal education. To participate fully has meant, for parents, residence in town and, for adolescents who continue with high school, both life in a hostel away from town and gaps in their knowledge about the bush. To drop out, however, means risking nonparticipation in the new economy.
Social Organization. Distinctions of status and wealth seem always to have been minimal among the Hare. The Nuclear family was the basic unit of social life, joining with (or departing from) others on the basis of kinship and affinity in a highly flexible fashion. In the class society that emerged in the post-European-contact era, patron-client relations developed between, on the one hand, traders, missionaries, and governmental agents who controlled the distribution of valued imported resources and, on the other, the Hare. In some instances, the control was so great that castelike relations developed.
Political Organization. Hare leaders lack power but possess authority, which, however, may be highly ephemeral. Their leadership derives from special hunting, fighting, trading, or shamanic skills, from their ability to influence others suggestively, or from their kinship connections. This has always been the case. Political action at the level of "the Hare" is unknown. Whereas a particular band might take action, the same principals are not consistently involved because band membership fluctuates. The Hudson's Bay Company introduced the position of trading chief and, later, the Canadian government the band chief; in each case, the title has been a misnomer because the person in whom it resided has been a spokesman at best. In 1921, the Hare signed Treaty 11 with the Canadian government, and the Hare Band at Fort Good Hope was created. Today, the Hare count themselves, with other Northwest Territories Athapaskans, as members of the Dene Nation, which for years has been pressing for the settlement of outstanding and conflicting treaty rights and for self-determination. In 1988, the Dene Nation and the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories signed an agreement-in-principle with the government of Canada in which the former would receive cash, surface rights to (and a share of mineral royalties from) over seventy thousand square miles of land, and other guarantees.
Social Control. The Hare depended heavily on gossip, ridicule, and other diffuse negative sanctions to effect control. Shamans, who had the power to kill, could also exercise social control. In the twentieth century, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Northwest Territories courts have provided formai sanctions for the Hare, although the informal diffuse negative sanctions have remained important in daily life.
Conflict. In their relations with others, especially the Inuit, the Hare traditionally have possessed a reputation for timidity. They have withdrawn rather than fought. Perhaps because of the emphasis placed on emotional restraint and the dependence on diffuse negative sanctions, drinking today—culturally constructed as a sociable, generous activity up to a point—frequently becomes violent as suppressed conflicts find expression. Since 1970, the Hare and other native people in the Northwest Territories have become increasingly vocal concerning the exploitation of natural resources and treaty and political rights.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs. Insofar as can be ascertained, the aboriginal religion was animistic, and the Hare believed also in the existence of a host of supernaturals and in the powers of medicine men or shamans. The Hare lived in an animistic universe in which certain animals had to be respected by observance of a series of taboos. In addition, a poorly understood host of supernaturals peopled the universe: a river monster, bushmen, a thunderbird, a spirit of the moon, a master of animals, ghosts, and perhaps a creator. Today, the Hare are baptized and confirmed into Roman Catholicism, variably observe the Sabbath and say rosaries, and believe in the Christian God and in heaven and hell. Some traditional beliefs persist—in reincarnation, ghosts, the power of shamans to cure some ailments, the efficacy of dreams and amulets, bad luck if certain taboos are broken.
Religious Practitioners . Hare medicine men, or shamans, were visionaries who could predict the future, locate lost objects, counteract the malevolence of non-Hare shamans, relieve hunger, and cure and kill. A shaman gained his power in dreams and could sing to an animal like a wolf, wolverine, or caribou (with whom he maintained a transformative and tutelary relationship), which would help him achieve success. Some Hare shamans had reputations that reached their neighbors. Since the 1860s, Oblate priests have spread Roman Catholicism and lived among the Hare. While the Decline in shamanism is linked to the arrival of Christianity, the belief in the special power of shamanism endured over a hundred years later.
Ceremonies. Aboriginal ceremonies were probably few and ranged from highly individualistic rites (when, for example, a Hare left an offering on a deceased relative's grave to appease the spirit) to ones of concern to a family or the entire band (such as foretelling future events or combating starvation or sickness that affected all). Today, some Hare Indians say their rosaries every night, in town or in camps in the bush, and some—in particular older people—go regularly to church, whereas others neither say rosaries nor attend Services. Sunday Mass at Fort Good Hope regularly attracts one-fifth of the population; a much higher proportion attends services at Christmas and Easter, which are the focal points of weeks-long gatherings that, for the last hundred years, have brought many to Fort Good Hope.
Arts. By the twentieth century, traditional ring and pin and hand games had given way to card games and cribbage, although gambling has been a feature of both traditional and modern games. The Hare have adopted the square dance, but it has not supplanted the traditional drum dance that accompanies important community events.
Medicine. The traditional Hare combated ailments by using certain herbs and by turning to their medicine men, who sang and either extruded the disease through sucking or demanded confession of breaches of taboo. In the mid-twentieth century, some Hare Indians have continued to rely on traditional medicine men to sing over, touch, and cure some sick people, but for illnesses like tuberculosis they have depended upon the White man's medicine. Today, the Hare make use of the nursing station or, in the bush, of traditional techniques unless the problem is clearly one that demands treatment in a hospital or by modern medicine.
Death and Afterlife. Formerly, the dead were placed on scaffolds, but interment by burial has occurred since the Oblates arrived. The body is prepared by the most distant kin or nonkin who observe taboos and henceforth to some degree are avoided by the kin of the deceased. The belief in the need to appease and feed the ghost of the deceased continues today, but self-mortification and destruction of property, both formerly common, no longer occur.
Broch, Harald Beyer (1986). Woodland Trappers: Hare Indians of Northwestern Canada. Bergen Studies in Social Anthropology, no. 35. Bergen, Norway: University of Bergen, Department of Social Anthropology.
Hara, Hiroko Sue (1980). The Hare Indians and Their World. National Museum of Man, Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service Paper 63. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.
Hultkrantz, Åke (1973). "The Hare Indians: Notes on Their Traditional Culture and Religion." Ethnos 38 (1 -4) : 113-152.
Osgood, Cornelius (1932). "The Ethnography of the Great Bear Lake Indians." Annual Report for 1931, National Museum of Canada Bulletin 70:31-97.
Savishinsky, Joel S. (1974). The Trail of the Hare: Life and Stress in an Arctic Community. New York: Gordon & Breach.
Savishinsky, Joel S., and Hiroko Sue Hara (1984). "Hare." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 6, Subarctic, edited by June Helm, 314-325. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
SHEPARD KRECH III
HARE (Heb. אַרְנֶבֶת, arnevet), according to the Pentateuch one of the prohibited animals (Lev. 11:6; Deut. 14:7). The Hebrew word is connected with the Akkadian annabu ("the jumper"). The Vulgate translates it from the Greek λαγώς ("a hare") as lepus. In spite of this the Septuagint gives the translation δασύπους, that is, "the hairy-legged." The Talmud explains that the wife of *Ptolemy Philadelphus, who according to tradition appointed 72 elders to translate the Pentateuch, was named Λαγώς and the translators made the change, apprehensive that the king might say: "The Jews have mocked at me and put my wife's name [as an unclean animal] in the Pentateuch" (Meg. 9b; tj, Meg. 1:11, 71d).
The description in the Pentateuch of the arnevet as a ruminant raises a difficulty since the hare is not one, and hence some cast doubt on this identification. The reference, however, is apparently to the movement of its jaws when it eats and perhaps also to its habit of regurgitating the food it eats in the early morning hours and of later chewing it again, as in rumination.
In Israel there are three species of hare: in the coastal lowland, in the mountains, and in the Negev. It is extensively hunted, but its rapid propagation prevents its extermination. The halakhah mentions "the wool of hares" among those to which the law of sha'atnez ("the prohibition of wearing material containing wool and linen") does not apply (Shab. 27a), the reference here being apparently to the rabbit – Dryctolagus cuniculus – which the Romans bred extensively and which may have been introduced into Ereẓ Israel in mishnaic times. Some mistakenly identify the shafan (av "coney"; jps "rock-badger"), coney, mentioned in the Pentateuch alongside the hare, with the rabbit, and this is its common usage in modern Hebrew.
J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 41; M. Dor, Leksikon Zo'ologi (1965), 46f.
hare and hounds a game, especially a paperchase, in which a group of people chase another person or group across the countryside.
the hare and the tortoise in one of Aesop's fables, typifying the defeat of ability by persistence; the hare lost the race between them through over-confidence in its superiority of speed, because it allowed itself over the course of the race to be distracted from reaching the goal.
start a hare raise a topic of conversation or argument. The rapid twisting and running of a hunted hare is here a metaphor for the pursuit of a topic in an animated conversation, especially one in which the participants hold strong views.
See also first catch your hare, mad as a March hare, if you run after two hares you will catch neither, you cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
hare / he(ə)r/ • n. a fast-running, long-eared mammal that resembles a large rabbit, having long hind legs and occurring typically in grassland or open woodland. • Lepus and other genera, family Leporidae: several species. ∎ (also electric hare) a dummy hare propelled around the track in greyhound racing. • v. [intr.] chiefly Brit. run with great speed: he hared off between the trees.
Hence harebell XIV, hare-brain, hare-lip XVI.