Aboriginal Overkill and Native Burning

Jim (63190881@WSUVM1.CSC.WSU.EDU)
Mon, 1 May 1995 12:31:01 PDT

My dissertation research deals with environmental ideologies and wilderness
protection in the Northern Rockies. Those environmental groups under study
also promote the myths of a pristine pre-colonial past in which wildlife
were abundant and native peoples lived in idyllic harmony with self-regulating
ecosystems. Those beliefs coincide with a need to provide an alternative model
to the way our society now relates to nature and/or "wilderness."

Perhaps federal land managers such as the Forest Service adhere to the myths
of a pristine past because they have unwittingly adopted the discourse of
environmentalism. The Forest Service is always having to justify its actions
and prove its management skills to conservation groups which continue to
bring legal suits against it. I think that environmentalism has set the
agenda and defined the terms of engagement. They have redefined the past in
terms which relate to their interests in the present.

Jim Rotholz
Dept. of Anthropology
Washington State University