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The Ecological Indian: Myth and History Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321005
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A good story and first-rate social science. -- New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Shepard Krech III is a professor of anthropology at Brown University. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and in Maine.

Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in anthropology, ecology, conservationism, and/or Native American history.
BlackRockPoint
His response is to point out that just because modern humans are more manipulative doesn't mean that the Indians didn't manipulate at all.
Jacquelyn Gill
The book is full of facts and heavily referenced, but some statements are suspiciously vague, considering the available documentation.
D. Reagan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Gill on September 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that Shepard Krech offers a much-needed volume on the subject of American Indian ecological impact, and by the end of the powerful introduction he has convinced the reader that this may well be the definitive volume on the subject. The intro is a strong and compelling case for the re-evaluation of a popular stereotype, and should itself be included in the syllabi of courses on anthropology and ecology alike. The thesis presented in The Ecological Indian is a simple one (though by no means without controversy): the traditional image of the Indian living in non-invasive harmony with the land is not only false, but in fact does a disservice to those of aboriginal heritage by perpetuating the falsehood of the primitive noble savage.

Krech's writing shines when he wears the hat of an environmental philosopher and an anthropologist, and so it is with great disappointment that I made the transition to the actual substance of the book's thesis. In some areas (particularly those more recent historically documented cases), Krech strongly underlines his case. In others, however, he falls unbelievably short where the data is almost more compelling. Most striking was the first chapter on the Pleistocene extinctions, which oddly begins the book with arguments against the human overkill hypothesis even in the face of very compelling evidence. He focuses too strongly on the mid-80's publications of Dr. Paul S. Martin, when much more recent work has come out regarding human hunting that was completely overlooked. This poor treatment weakend the impact of the powerful introduction, and was a lost opportunity for strong evidence about early human land impact.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Hĺvard Hegdal on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
You might want to skip the first chapters on prehistory; they are outside the author's own expertise, fuzzy and incomplete in both arguments and conclusions. The great extinctions, in particular (where the author all but excludes human participation, a mea culpa for what is to follow?), is myopically rendered and should not be accepted at face value.

I forgave all this when I reached the main part; about North American Natives' interactions with nature, documented by Europeans from the 16th century and on. Many observations are illustrated with well chosen excerpts from the sources. There are detailed accounts of the impact of European diseases, of native forest fire practice, of hunting of bison, deer, beaver and caribou. The image that emerges is one of exploitation (often wasteful) by demand, not by sustainability. It's harrowing and brilliant. It could well be that this picture is incomplete, but the evidence is collaborated by literally hundreds of sources. And certain facts leave no room for argument: If you for instance believe (this really got to me) that your prey multiply by reincarnation in ever greater numbers as you kill them, you are not - by any definition - ecologically conscious.

The deeper lessons of this book are not so much about Native Americans as about humans, and the mechanics of human environmental exploitation. It is particularily recommended to anybody who has an interest in evironmental protection. The author clearly lacks the thorough biological understanding to bring the point across, but the value of the historical research seems to me beyond dispute.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beverly A. Ramsey on February 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cultural myths are good, I am Native american and I am constantly amused by the monolithic beliefs that many have concerning Native Maericna ecological practices. Like all communities, it is not that simple; beliefs are varied; economics clash with ecological values. This is a well presented treatise and I found it balanced and useful.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Glory Benacka on October 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Kudos to Krech for bringing up a new twist on the historical "crying Indian" figure everyone is so familiarly brainwashed into identifying with. I was initially shocked and disgruntled by Kreches arguments because I have grown up with a 100% ecological Indian/Dances With Wolves impression of Native Americans. However, the book is stocked with evidence claiming the alternative, that Native Americans did have negative impacts on the environment possibly comparatively to that of the European settlers. Krech did a fabulous job avoiding the use of glittering generalities when presenting arguments. However, at times he almost seems to argumentative (with himself) which is why I give the book only four stars--he tended to write to the critics. At some points he tends to have random arguments, but overall, it is a fascinating piece, which brings up new ideas on the subject in a sensitive way.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By james david cornwell on January 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good read. Everyone should read this perspective of the American Indian. It may dispell or at least bring them to question their previous image of them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Istariel on January 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A decent read despite it being a text book, this is an informative and educational volume that shows what the people of today are only now rediscovering in many areas.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BlackRockPoint on March 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Ecological Indian is an immensely rewarding and intellectually stimulating book. Dr. Krech approaches his topic with clarity and intellectual honesty. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in anthropology, ecology, conservationism, and/or Native American history. Further, I would recommend this book to anyone who is just intellectually curious. Beware of some of the negative reviews for this book on Amazon, as it seems from their comments that some of these people have not read this book--rather they are just making negative comments based on false assumptions.
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