Perspectives on the Ecological Indian
Native Americans and the Environment brings together an interdisciplinary group of prominent scholars whose works continue and complicate the conversations that Shepard Krech started in The Ecological Indian. Hailed as a masterful synthesis and yet assailed as a problematic political tract, Shepard Krech’s work prompted significant discussions in scholarly communities and among Native Americans. Rather than provide an explicit assessment of Krech’s thesis, the contributors to this volume explore related historical and contemporary themes and subjects involving Native Americans and the environment, reflecting their own research and experience. At the same time, they also assess the larger issue of representation. The essays examine topics as divergent as Pleistocene extinctions and the problem of storing nuclear waste on modern reservations. They also address the image of the “ecological Indian” and its use in natural history displays alongside a consideration of the utility and consequences of employing such a powerful stereotype for political purposes. The nature and evolution of traditional ecological knowledge is examined, as is the divergence between belief and practice in Native resource management. Geographically, the focus extends from the eastern Subarctic to the Northwest Coast, from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains to the Great Basin.