Perhaps I just need some clarification, but I found after reading “The Ecological Indian” that I was extremely angry. My anger stems from Krech’s failure to acknowledge some major details that I view as significant to this debate. Just a brief listing of what I believe slipped his mind:
1. Trying to make the claim that all Native Americans were or were not conservationists is a bold attempt. The situation is not black and white (as he demonstrates). Though he alluded to both arguments I still felt as if he were trying to arrive at a huge generalization. An entire society cannot be generalized in this way. No one would ever dare to say, “All Americans are environmentalists,” because they aren’t. Environmentalists are only a small subset of American culture as a whole, as I believe was similar in years past.
2. Aside from the mentioning that the Natives had vast knowledge on plants and animals there was no concession to the fact that Native Americans simply did not have the technology that we have today, nor did they have the ability to have as accurate of expectations for the future. They simply would have no way of understanding (to the extent that we do today) the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources. Therefore, their “conservation” was merely an act of love for their home. Their lack of conservation was therefore not influenced with knowledge of possible repercussions.
3. Krech mentioned very little regarding the heated debate over why Natives deserve the right to have a control over the land that overpowers the government’s control. Many people argue because they were here first, they deserve that right. Others believe that Americans have worked long and hard for control for a long time now. This information would have strengthen his book and truly given readers a greater ability to take a stance on this issue.
What angered me more was that Krech was clearly trying to persuade readers into believing that Native Americans were not conservationists (despite having explored both sides of the argument, he was constantly coming back to negative aspects of Indian culture); that indigenous is simply not synonymous with conservation, ecology or sustainability .I'm not sure why this made me so upset, but I think it had something to do with Krech pessimistically pressing and criticizing Native Americans, no matter how significant the detail. I guess I am just a little puzzled as to why he believes it is so important to take one stance or another? Have any of you taken a firm stance one way or another?