Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the near Southwest

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the near Southwest

Article excerpt

Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the Near Southwest. By Dan Flores. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000. Pp. xiii, 312. Preface, maps, illustrations, epilogue, bibliography, index. $45.00, cloth; $18.95, paper.)

Dan Flores writes a new brand of history, though one not completely unfamiliar to New Western history. His essays in Horizontal Yellow are personal memoir intertwined with scholarship. The first essay, for example, begins as a buddy adventure in Big Bend National Park but soon becomes an evocative and provocative history of the Near Southwest-a region Flores defines as Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The area is connected in Flores's geography by rivers, such as the Arkansas and the Red, that flow from the Rockies and Plains to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Flores 's own experience in the Horizontal Yellow-a translation of the Navajo name for the western sky which he uses to refer to the region-- includes encounters with an array of animals. His descriptions of Skatopah, his paint horse, and Ysa, a female wolf-dog hybrid with an interspecies crush on Flores, alone make the book worth reading. Flores's relationships with these animals are parables for human relationships with nature. They warn him and us against an environmental arrogance that insists humans are in complete control of their world. Instead, we are part of an interconnected whole.

Interconnections are a cornerstone of the bioregionalism of which Flores is one of the leading advocates in the historical profession. Chapter five is the clearest statement here of bioregionalism, the idea that we must learn our role in the natural world. It is not that we must get "back to nature," but that we must understand it and our place in it if we are to survive, or if nature is to survive us. …

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