Read Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson Online


John Muir was an early proponent of a view we still hold today—that much of California was pristine, untouched wilderness before the arrival of Europeans. But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra MJohn Muir was an early proponent of a view we still hold today—that much of California was pristine, untouched wilderness before the arrival of Europeans. But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra Miwok and Valley Yokuts Indians, modified and made productive by centuries of harvesting, tilling, sowing, pruning, and burning. Marvelously detailed and beautifully written, Tending the Wild is an unparalleled examination of Native American knowledge and uses of California's natural resources that reshapes our understanding of native cultures and shows how we might begin to use their knowledge in our own conservation efforts.M. Kat Anderson presents a wealth of information on native land management practices gleaned in part from interviews and correspondence with Native Americans who recall what their grandparents told them about how and when areas were burned, which plants were eaten and which were used for basketry, and how plants were tended. The complex picture that emerges from this and other historical source material dispels the hunter-gatherer stereotype long perpetuated in anthropological and historical literature. We come to see California's indigenous people as active agents of environmental change and stewardship. Tending the Wild persuasively argues that this traditional ecological knowledge is essential if we are to successfully meet the challenge of living sustainably....

Title : Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780520248519
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 555 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources Reviews

  • Tom Lichtenberg
    2018-11-14 23:21

    I live in coastal central California, in a relatively rural environment. I often like to imagine what it was like before the arrival of Europeans. The usual history tells of small nomadic primitive savages living off the land, basically as scavengers. Sure, they could make a mean waterproof basket, but otherwise there is nothing much to say about these people. And very little is said about the landscape or ecology of the area. It is what it is, redwoods and oaks and such. This book tells a very different story, of populous, settled societies tending the land while enjoying a culture of abundance for hundreds of years. The sheer number of animals was stunning to the first Europeans, birds in the millions, deer and antelope in the hundreds of thousands, bears and lions and the rivers so thick with salmon that men on horseback could not cross. Those Europeans came from a culture of poverty and vast inequality, and quickly established the same sort of society here. We all take it for granted. Like them we can hardly imagine the opposite. it is true that a culture of struggle and hardship produced our modern civilization with all of its inventions and science, but at the price that for most people, life is hard and there is no end to unfairness and violence. We have only been here for a short time. My grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was around when the Spanish began to enslave the native residents here. it is estimated that their cultures here remained in equilibrium for a hundred times as many generations back. I am always enchanted to see a flock of quail scurrying about. This book informs me that less than two hundred years ago, such a flock would have numbered in the millions, that this region has been so vastly redone that my attempts at imagining it are futile.

  • Fleece
    2018-11-14 19:02

    LITERALLY AMAZING. destroys both anthropological and ecologic assumptions about native californians and their role in the landscape, that is, CA was NOT a pristine wilderness (and as much as i like muir: SUCK IT, muir), much of the abundance and beautiful structure of the plant communities resulted from indigenous expert care and knowledge! book deconstructs white/western concept of wilderness and integrates native californian history + current concerns w/environmental problems. CREDITS NATIVE PEOPLE WHO WERE SOURCES OF INFORMATION!!!!! (which is super important in this context because a lot of native knowledge is disregarded- columbusing eh?)basically i'm pissed this wasn't required reading for like all my major's classes. not even ethnobotany came close!!

  • Richard Reese
    2018-11-10 23:13

    “Nature really misses us,” laments M. Kat Anderson. “We no longer have a relationship with plants and animals, and that’s the reason why they’re going away.” Anderson is the author of Tending the Wild, in which she describes the relationships that California Indians have with the plants and animals, the rocks and streams, the sacred land which is their ancient home. It’s an essential book for pilgrims who strive to envision the long and rugged path back home to wildness, freedom, and sustainability.In medieval Europe, hungry dirty peasant farmers succeeded in painstakingly perfecting a miserable, laborious, backbreaking form of agriculture that depleted the soil, and produced minimal yields with erratic inconsistency. They were malnourished, unhealthy, and most of them died young — whilst the lords and ladies, who claimed to own the land, wallowed in a rich sludge of glitter and gluttony.When European explorers arrived in California, they discovered half-naked heathen barbarians who were exceedingly healthy, and enjoyed an abundance of nourishing wild foods that they acquired without sweat or toil. Clearly, these savages were people who suffered from a lack of civilization’s elevated refinements: agriculture, smallpox, uncomfortable ugly clothing, brutal enslavement, and religious enlightenment from priests who preached the virtues of love, but practiced exploitive racist cruelty. In 1868, Titus Fey Cronise wrote that when whites arrived, the land of California was “filled with elk, deer, hares, rabbits, quail, and other animals fit for food; the rivers and lakes swarming with salmon, trout, and other fish, their beds and banks covered with mussels, clams, and other edible mollusca; the rocks on its sea shores crowded with seal and otter; and its forests full of trees and plants, bearing acorns, nuts, seeds, and berries.” The greed-crazed Europeans went absolutely berserk, rapidly destroying whatever could be converted into money: forests, waterfowl, whales, deer, elk, salmon, gold nuggets. Grizzly bear meat was offered at most restaurants. There were fortunes to be made, the supply of valuable resources was “inexhaustible,” and the foolish Indians were so lazy that they let all of this wealth go to waste. There were 500 to 600 different tribes in California, speaking many different languages. In North America, the population density of California Indians was second only to the Aztec capitol of Mexico City. They lived quite successfully by hunting, fishing, and foraging — without domesticated plants or animals, without plowing or herding, without fortified cities, authoritarian rulers, perpetual warfare, horrid sanitation, or epidemics of contagious disease. The Indians found the Europeans to be incredibly peculiar. The Pit River people called them enellaaduwi — wanderers — homeless people with no attachment to the land or its creatures. The bulk of Tending the Wild describes how the California Indians tended the land. They did not merely wander across the countryside in hopes of randomly discovering plant and animal foods. They had an intimate, sacred relationship with the land, and they tended it in order to encourage the health of their closest relatives — the plant and animal communities upon which they depended. Fires were periodically set to clear away brush, promote the growth of grasses and herbs, and increase the numbers of larger game animals. Burning significantly altered the ecosystem on a massive scale, but it didn’t lead to the creation of barren wastelands over time, like agriculture continues to do, at an ever-accelerating rate. California has a long dry season, and wildfires sparked by lightening are a normal occurrence in this ecosystem. Nuts, grains, and seeds are a very useful source of food. They’re rich in oils, calories, and protein. They can be stored for long periods, enabling survival through lean seasons and lean years. The quantity of acorns foraged each year was not regular and dependable, but many were gathered in years of abundance. A diverse variety of wildflowers and grasses can provide a dependable supply of seeds and grains. The Indians tended the growth of important plants in a number of ways — pruning, weeding, burning, watering, replanting bulbs, sowing seeds. Communities of cherished plants were deliberately expanded. The Indians were blessed with a complete lack of advanced Old World technology. They luckily had no draft animals or plows, so their soil-disturbing activities were mostly limited to digging bulbs, corms, and tubers, and planting small tobacco gardens.Today, countless ecosystems are being ravaged by agriculture. A few visionaries, like Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, are working to develop a far less destructive mode of farming, based on mechanically harvesting the grain from perennial plants. This research is a slow process, and success is not expected any time soon. California Indians developed a brilliant, time-proven, sustainable system for producing seeds and grain without degrading the ecosystem. So did the wild rice gatherers of the Great Lakes region. They built no cities, and they did not suffer from the misery and monotony of civilization. They had no powerful leaders, ruling classes, or legions of exploited slaves. They were not warlike societies. Their ecosystems were clean and healthy. They lived like real human beings — wild, free, and happy.Tending the Wild is an important book. It presents us with stories of a way of life that worked, and worked remarkably well. This is precious knowledge for us to contemplate, as our own society is rapidly circling the drain, and our need for remembering healthy old ideas has never been greater.

  • Angela Dawn
    2018-12-01 21:04

    A groundbreaking work (if you can forgive the pun) that will strongly influence, and potentially profoundly change, the way we view nature, the subtle sophistication of the Native Americans, the importance of their knowledge in our own struggle to preserve our natural resources and heritage, and the horrific tragedy of genocide perpetrated against them by those who considered themselves "superior and advanced", but who were actually too arrogant, ignorant, unsophisticated, greedy, and brutal to recognize all they could have learned. The very attitudes that have brought our beautiful home planet to the brink of destruction.This book is a primer of mindful environmentalism, responsible stewardship, and the humble recognition of our rightful and honest place in the world of living creatures. For myself, it reminded me poignantly of what I have long believed, that the destruction and loss of tribal cultures was the harbinger of the environmental catastrophe we now face.It can be said of Homo Sapiens, as much as of any species we have endangered or extincted, "What right have we to drive these miracles off the Earth" May we learn the lessons they have to teach us before it's too late

  • Zach Elfers
    2018-11-26 00:29

    This is one of the best books ever written. This is about more than anthropology, ethnobotany, and ecology. This is about a lifeway that sustained our ancestors for thousands of years, not just in California but across the world. Tending the Wild reveals what native peoples have long known, and what most of the colonized world has forgotten. While M. Kat Anderson never quite spells it out, her well-researched study still effectively illustrates the point that living an empathetic existence with the natural world leads to deep symbiosis. M. Kat Anderson describes how California Native Americans managed their ecosystems not only to provide for their nourishment, but at the same time to regenerate, and grow with even more abundance in the following years. This is counter-intuitive to the civilized point of view which is object-oriented and extraction-oriented. Many of us in the developed world have forgotten that relationship-oriented, reciprocal lifeway which holds the origins of all of us. Tending the Wild also indirectly dispels of the commonplace myth of hunter-gatherers living a hand-to-mouth existence without footprint on the land.

  • Tomek
    2018-12-05 17:25

    Although this book focuses on the traditional management of California indigenous groups, the general themes of these systems are applicable and can be generalized to many other traditional management systems, especially those that use fire. The last two chapters about restoration using traditional ecological management are particularly excellent. The rest may be more applicable to individuals studying traditional ecological knowledge of California tribal peoples as Anderson goes into quite a bit of depth regarding different plant species they utilize. The author's plant bias (he's a lecturer of Plant Sciences at UC Davis) is fairly evident, as he goes into great detail about plant management and use while skipping over wildlife management and use. I was mildly irked by his vitriol regarding Western management. For all his arguments against various dichotomies (intensive use vs preservation, agriculturalist vs hunter-gatherer), he never explicitly discusses the possibility of overcoming the divide between indigenous and Western worldviews and land management and trivializes the developments that western science has yielded. Finally, he never really addresses whether these land management systems are tenable given the extensive environmental degradation over the past three centuries and high current population. I agree that indigenous ecological knowledge can offer tools to assist in sustainable management, but fear that our society is currently incapable of the restraint that Native Americans developed into their social systems, which would lead to overuse. I think that sustainable use management is probably better applied to already degraded land that has since been restored, as these areas are usually already being impacted by humans to one degree or another and are difficult to restore to primary conditions.All in all, this is an inspiring, thought-provoking, interesting, and well-organized book that presents indigenous land management in an easy to read way.Edit: The above review holds true, but I reduced the rating to three stars upon reading Thomas Vale's Fire, Native Peoples, and the Natural Landscape. Anderson uses interviews extensively to document the utility and use of fire, but he never considers to explain whether it was used extensively. His claims that virtually all of California, if not the West, were significantly affected by indigenous management is probably an overstatement. He argues that natural fire regimes are not sufficient to produce the ecological heterogeneity in California, but current fire ecology research would suggest otherwise. Although indigenous groups undoubtedly used fire as a management tool and may have even done so regularly/intensely near their communities, it seems to be an overstatement that it was used extensively throughout the state. This does not undermine the complexity of their management. If anything, it underscores their ability to effectively conserve resources and self-regulate and control their impact on the landscape. Furthermore, it shows that they were able to efficiently obtain the resources they needed for subsistence without large-scale landscape modification, which is something our society can aspire to. Although fire suppression is obviously a poor management decision for these fire-dependent ecosystems, the need for wide-scale burning is also questionable. Just the pre-contact pristine wilderness is a myth, the physical evidence would suggest that the entirely modified pre-contact landscape is as well.

  • Linda
    2018-11-17 18:21

    Tending the Wild is an intriguing mix of history, culture, and science.The book started off with a sort of historical review. It was disturbing and sad to read about how native Californians were treated by Europeans, Mexicans, and other Americans. Of course, I knew some of the things that occurred but I hadn't read about them since I was in school decades ago. I think it was an important reminder of what did actually happen. The bulk of the book described and documented the extensive wildlife management performed by early native Californians. It makes sense that they would have weeded, pruned, spread seeds, transplanted, and otherwise interacted with the plants they relied on for food, medicine, containers, shelter, and tools, but I had not thought much about it. I was surprised to learn how much they used controlled burns to rejuvenate the land and keep some spaces open for the animals they lived near and hunted. This book changed my perspective of what constitutes wilderness. Land can be tended and wild.

  • Nate
    2018-11-26 21:26

    Powerful and informative, M. Kat Anderson's careful documentation of indigenous land-use practices in California sheds light on an almost forgotten aspect of this state's history. The various tribes of California cultivated, tended, and worked with the land to create a symbiotic relationship. Practices like burning of undergrowth increased acorn harvests, stimulated growth for basket-making plants, and created straight shoots for arrows and other implements. They were neither hunter-gatherers nor strict agriculturalists; they were somewhere in the middle. Fascinating and detailed book. Definitely recommended reading for anyone interested in California history or naturalism. The thesis of the book, Anderson's perspective on the native relationship with nature, does away with the either/or distinction between nature and culture. This kind of attitude is our future, rather than the alienation that we have experienced as Westerners.

  • Mike Dettinger
    2018-11-24 00:05

    A surprisingly readable book about the California landscape as experienced and especially as PRACTICED by native Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans. It's not written as a popular exposition, have no illusions there, but it's so fascinating and well written that it swept me up and held me. What a vision of native California! What an earthly paradise and how different from the "white man invades wilderness" views of the landscape. This isn't some sort of apology for all the devastation we have wrought on the land, but also shows that much of what we envision as natural beauty and wealth was actually a product of sustained sustainable human management of the land very different from our own.what an eye opener!

  • Hatuxka
    2018-12-05 16:14

    This book just blew me away. That the breathtaking landscape seen and commented on by such luminaries as John Muir was not, as he and many others thought, a pristinely untouched place, but a managed ecosystem (by the native peoples) is a one the exciting discoveries of my life. It weaves in with the biology and ecology of the native peoples plant community management a history of the atrocities and injustices done to the Indians of California which for me was a message that the place is tragically poorer for the loss and neglect of what the tribes of California knew about maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The amount of plant knowledge that had to be compiled and how well it is conveyed is incredible.

  • Scot
    2018-11-27 23:05

    Kat Anderson has spent the last decade or so examining how the landscapes of pre-contact California were affected by the folks that were already here. Her thesis basically states that human management of the environment in California was so pervasive, there is very little "natural wilderness." From oak woodlands to Sierran meadows, California plant communities were coppiced, dug, and burned on a regular basis. In this tome, she lists management techniques on a plant-by-plant basis, in addition to telling what the plants were used for. Though at times this approach can be tedious, it's a fascinating and thorough text.

  • Chris
    2018-11-22 20:12

    Made it to 128 pages when I got distracted by other books. Just couldn't get my groove back into this. Chapter 3, Collision of Worlds, is superb. Then we get into lots of interesting but dry info on various types of botany and agriculture used by the natives. Author made her points and pounded them home which is that the natives truly had a balanced approach to the land and tended to the wild. Their ways in hindsight seem far superior to the educated or modern approach to land management-particularly fire management.

  • Charlie
    2018-12-09 16:05

    This is an important book that anyone involved with management of California ecosystems should read. My only complaint: some of the information on management of some resources, especially those related to baskety/coppicing, seemed to be approached in a somewhat redundant way, and could have been addressed more succinctly. In any event, it is a shame that they don't require everyone working for the Forest Service, Park Service, and other land management agencies in California, to read this book.

  • Dpdwyer
    2018-12-06 18:23

    This is a great resource book and a good read if you want a lot of detail. It describes how, without farming per se, California Native American tribes altered their various environments--by fire, by thinning, by pruning etc--to increase food and materials necessary for their lives and livelihoods. It belongs on the shelf of every Californian who hikes and wonders about the native plants and how they can be used.

  • Bonnie
    2018-11-13 00:29

    Dr. Anderson is an expert on this fascinating and little known history of California Indians. Americans have long labored under the misconception that the Native Americans lived only lightly on the land, and it was all here for the taking, empty and unused, when the colonists arrived. Nothing could be further from the truth. She explains in detail how the Native Americans changed and affected the landscape of California and the source of her knowledge. An expert in a fascinating area.

  • Robert
    2018-11-19 20:07

    Excellent book on how the natives in California lived, worked, and ate in their surroundings before the state of California was official. We should be able to live in our environment the same way. This book has helped me with ideas on how people may have lived in Mississippi before European settlers - which is helpful for my job as an archaeologist.

  • Heidi
    2018-11-24 20:09

    This was really good - took a long time to read, and had some catchup on Native American history that I was less interested in, but overall very educational. The overview of foods, plant types and tending methods was well worth it. I rather hoped for more information about the botany of California and where things grow together and how they can be tended.

  • Letecia
    2018-12-05 21:26

    This is one of the most remarkable books on California history and the Native Peoples who created our the abundant landscape and habitat support biodiversity. It is of vital importance to anyone concerned about the environment, permaculture, and how to live on/in right relationship with the land.

  • Susan
    2018-11-11 00:11

    The precolumbian "New World" was not untouched wilderness. This study chronicles the land management techniques of the native Californians.

  • Andrew
    2018-11-20 00:16

    superb. my mind and perspectives regarding our Western relationship with nature turned inside out and exploded.

  • Sam
    2018-11-28 16:28

    very academic, but good!

  • Adam Azeris
    2018-12-05 19:22

    I did not finish this book, I only checked out the introduction and the first chapter. The amount of information is staggering though I did find it absolutely compelling & eye opening.

  • alex carter
    2018-12-04 23:27

    fascinating and information rich.

  • Nic Paget-Clarke
    2018-11-26 21:11

    One of the best books I've ever read.