Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian

By Michael E. Harkin; David Rich Lewis | Go to book overview

Foreword

Judith Antell

When Michael Harkin, Brian Hosmer, and I discussed proposing the “Refiguring the Ecological Indian” conference to the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center for its tenth annual symposium (2002), we believed the topic of Native peoples and their relationships with the environment to be important for many reasons and deserving of serious consideration. Shepard Krech's recently published and controversial book, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History, contributed to the timeliness of the discussion, it seemed to us.

While these foundational thoughts for the “Re-figuring the Ecological Indian” conference were hardly provocative, action that followed, as plans for the conference evolved, proved to be. Specifically, Shepard Krech was invited to give a keynote address. I supported the address because I was interested in hearing his arguments and evidence presented before an audience that was in significant measure Native American. Also, I believed the question-and-answer session following his presentation would provide an opportunity for critical discussion, challenges to Krech's premises and positions, and a necessary opportunity for debate. I anticipated a “Krech Meets the Critics” encounter that would represent the best traditions of the academy. What I failed to anticipate was the interpretation by some that the conference's invitation to Krech was an endorsement of him and his writings. I should have known better, and when it happened I had no trouble understanding why. I wish my timing had been better and that I had thought ahead instead of understanding after.

-ix-

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