Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian

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

Preface

Brian Hosmer

From where I now sit, fortified by distances of time and geography, “Re-figuring the Ecological Indian,” the tenth annual (2002) symposium of the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center (AHC), seems an inspired event, not the least because it initiated conversations that inspired this volume, so expertly organized by Michael E. Harkin and David Rich Lewis. Emerging, as such things do, out of opportunity (in this case the publication of a thought-provoking book by an eminent anthropologist), supported by AHC leadership (Rick Ewig and Michael Devine in particular), and driven by a fruitful partnership of academic departments and programs from Anthropology and American Indian Studies to American Studies and History, “Re-figuring” promised to draw significant scholarly attention to what heretofore had been an under-noticed and under-appreciated series of very fine symposia, hosted by one of the Gem City's true jewels.

Of course, any piece that begins with the disclaimer “From where I now sit” telegraphs something more than misty reminiscence of halcyon days. Yes, “Re-figuring” put the AHC and its annual symposium on the map. And certainly, when all was said and done, participants and audience members enjoyed many stimulating conversations, provoked and inspired by a truly fine collection of thoughtful papers (a few of which are reproduced in this collection). But we didn't always believe we'd get there, or at least I didn't.

The stimulus for this symposium, it is true, was the 1999 publication of Shepard Krech's The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. And in pitching the idea to AHC interim director Rick Ewig, our organizing committee (Michael Harkin; Judith Antell, director of American Indian Studies at the University

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