Epistemological Models and Culture Conflict: Menominee and Euro-American Hunters in Wisconsin


  • Norbert Ross,

  • Doug Medin,

  • Doug Cox


We describe how Menominee Native Americans and Euro-American hunters differ with respect to how they perceive and think about nature (here, specifically animals and plants of the forest) as well as the role of humans in it. We call these models epistemological frameworks—folk theories that allow individuals to make inferences in specific situations, guiding the acquisition and formation of new knowledge. Using an approach that combines ethnographic research from anthropology with experimental approaches from related cognitive sciences, we explore the within- and between-cultural distributions of ideas, values, and beliefs and their behavioral consequences. Findings indicate that stereotyping of other groups is largely driven by differences in epistemological frameworks and resulting categorizations and interpretations of observed or assumed behaviors.