Sunday, July 1, 2012

Marielle Ravosa--- Media and The Ecological Indian

While reading Shepard Kretch’s The Ecological Indian, I found myself astonished by the sizable role that the media plays in our perception of the past. During the initial chapters of the book, Kretch explains how Indians were broadcasted to the general public. Images of a tearful Indian spread the message that “Pollution: [is] a crying shame” (1). Because the Indian denotes that pollution is a disgrace, he indisputably implies that white people, not Indians, started pollution. Due to this widespread idea, children are generally taught in school that Indians did nothing to contaminate the environment and reused and recycled their belongings. However, the former is not always the case; the “body of evidence suggests that the Indians also wasted animals killed at communal hunting sights” (143).  When the Indians hunted bison, they “butchered [only] three of every four…or left untouched one of every four” (144). Hence, we see here that the Indians could be wasteful—this subsequently proves that Indians were not the flawless environmentalists we esteem them to be.

Furthermore, we learned that Indians set fires. While these fires did sometimes help forests and grasslands, they were not always beneficial. When they were “too frequent or too hot, when moisture [was] low, or when heavy rains follow[ed] fires and cause[d] erosion, plants may not [have] easily recover[ed]” (116). Fires also “sometimes destroyed horses and other property and even occasionally torched men and women” (121). Thus, while it is seems that the Indians knew how to properly deal with the environment, they essentially were not perfect and did not always do the best things for nature.

Because Indians were portrayed as seamless environmentalists, many people think that they were superior to the polluters present today. However, we must learn to look at the media with a more watchful eye. Advertisements should be read with a grain of salt, as they are meant to persuade people of a certain cause, and not necessarily of the truth.

----Marielle Ravosa

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