In rural Mongolia, local ecosystems support many of the daily life needs of both human and nonhuman populations. Kazakh pastoralists in the westernmost province of Bayan-Ölgii, in Mongolia, have established complex relationships with the land. They not only rely on resources for their subsistence but, as ecosystem stewards, they maintain ecological knowledge that is tied to local and regional biodiversity. This study explores how Kazakh pastoralists use locally created songs to express both relationships with the land and a sense of well-being. The social settings for singing and the images in song lyrics that reinforce a sense of place and relationships with resources provide pathways for social transmission of knowledge. This is especially important during this period of ecological, economic, and social change in the region that has ruptured ecosystems and families. Kazakh pastoralists' musical practices linked to pasture resources and activities, resource diversity, and social-ecological resilience are also associated with social learning and coping with transformations that take place in social-ecological systems. The songs provide access to local ecological knowledge that may offer new approaches to understanding notions of more-than-human well-being for scholars working in collaboration with research partners in local and regional settings.
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Vol. 39 • No. 3