About the Project

The site and project are currently being developed by Jack Kredell, Christopher Lamb, and the CDIL, with the full site expected to be released sometime in Spring 2021.

Storying Extinction: Responding to the Loss of North Idaho’s Mountain Caribou is a multidisciplinary digital humanities project aimed at representing community response to the recent extirpation (2019) of mountain caribou from the South Selkirk mountains of North Idaho—the last caribou to inhabit the coterminous United States.

The local extinction served as the exigence for a GIS-based deep map, or spatial narrative, which documents the interaction of human and more-than-human communities in North Idaho through geolocated oral histories Debby Ackley describes seeing a caribou on her hike to Two Mouth Lakes
Debbie Ackley Encounter at Two Mouth Lakes
1 of 15 oral histories
of caribou encounters, game camera footage of species currently inhabiting former caribou habitat, and various historical documents about caribou existence in the South Selkirks.

The deep map intends to represent caribou absence by revealing what Thom Van Dooren and Deborah Bird Rose refer to as “the countless interwoven ēthea [styles or ways of life] that together comprise the foundation of our [shared] world.”https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-3527731 It is grounded in a shared conviction with Van Dooren and Rose that storytelling is an ethical practice, and that the “stories we tell are powerful contributors to the becoming of our shared world” (264).Section - ‘Response: Becoming-Witness’

It takes the moment of extirpation as a point of departure, as a “fissure” or “gesture,” from the world that calls on our response-ability. And it aims to create a sense of proximity and ethical entanglement with the more-than-human through a practice of spatially situated multispecies storytelling.

Future Development

These media are represented as colored nodes on a GIS satellite baselayer of Northern Idaho and surrounding areas. Users can scroll forward or backward for a random selection of map items, or click “view map” to be taken back to the full baselayer where they can browse media from a bird’s eye view.

Eventually the map will be peppered with various nodes that will enable users to drop into the space and view its unfolding at a particular location and time, or to witness the retelling of a caribou encounter from the geographic location of its occurrence.