Challenging many sacrosanct notions about the relationship between Native Americans and nature, the author discusses the possible role of Pleistocene-era humans in eradicating the mastodon, over-irrigation of crops among the Hohokam of Arizona, and slash-and-burn farming techniques.
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: The idea of the Native American living in perfect harmony with nature is a cherished contemporary myth. In this book Shepard Krech seeks to correct the stereotype. Krech surveys North American environmental history to explore the relation between humans and the rest of nature before and after the arrival of Europeans. He addresses such questions as: were Pleistocene-era humans responsible for the extinction of many large mammals in North America? Did the Hohokam of Arizona destroy their society by over-irrigating and over-salinating theor crops? What role did native Americans play in the near-extinction of the deer, the beaver and the buffalo? How did they use fire? And was the natural "Eden" that awed the first European visitors just a feature of very low-population density? Providing historical and anthropological evidence, he offers a new picture of Indians as sophisticated humans who both changed the land and responded to its changing ecology.