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Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources
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Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources

4.57  ·  Rating Details ·  131 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
John Muir was an early proponent of a view we still hold today—that much of California was pristine, untouched wilderness before the arrival of Europeans. But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra M ...more
Paperback, 555 pages
Published February 22nd 2006 by University of California Press (first published June 14th 2005)
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Tom Lichtenberg
Dec 18, 2013 Tom Lichtenberg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I live in coastal central California, in a relatively rural environment. I often like to imagine what it was like before the arrival of Europeans. The usual history tells of small nomadic primitive savages living off the land, basically as scavengers. Sure, they could make a mean waterproof basket, but otherwise there is nothing much to say about these people. And very little is said about the landscape or ecology of the area. It is what it is, redwoods and oaks and such. This book tells a very ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Fleece rated it it was amazing
LITERALLY AMAZING. destroys both anthropological and ecologic assumptions about native californians and their role in the landscape, that is, CA was NOT a pristine wilderness (and as much as i like muir: SUCK IT, muir), much of the abundance and beautiful structure of the plant communities resulted from indigenous expert care and knowledge! book deconstructs white/western concept of wilderness and integrates native californian history + current concerns w/environmental problems. CREDITS NATIVE P ...more
Richard Reese
Mar 23, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Nature really misses us,” laments M. Kat Anderson. “We no longer have a relationship with plants and animals, and that’s the reason why they’re going away.” Anderson is the author of Tending the Wild, in which she describes the relationships that California Indians have with the plants and animals, the rocks and streams, the sacred land which is their ancient home. It’s an essential book for pilgrims who strive to envision the long and rugged path back home to wildness, freedom, and sustainabil ...more
Angela Dawn
May 06, 2007 Angela Dawn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Native American studies/conservation
A groundbreaking work (if you can forgive the pun) that will strongly influence, and potentially profoundly change, the way we view nature, the subtle sophistication of the Native Americans, the importance of their knowledge in our own struggle to preserve our natural resources and heritage, and the horrific tragedy of genocide perpetrated against them by those who considered themselves "superior and advanced", but who were actually too arrogant, ignorant, unsophisticated, greedy, and brutal to ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Tomek rated it liked it
Although this book focuses on the traditional management of California indigenous groups, the general themes of these systems are applicable and can be generalized to many other traditional management systems, especially those that use fire. The last two chapters about restoration using traditional ecological management are particularly excellent. The rest may be more applicable to individuals studying traditional ecological knowledge of California tribal peoples as Anderson goes into quite a bi ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Nate rated it it was amazing
Powerful and informative, M. Kat Anderson's careful documentation of indigenous land-use practices in California sheds light on an almost forgotten aspect of this state's history. The various tribes of California cultivated, tended, and worked with the land to create a symbiotic relationship. Practices like burning of undergrowth increased acorn harvests, stimulated growth for basket-making plants, and created straight shoots for arrows and other implements. They were neither hunter-gatherers no ...more
Mike Dettinger
Apr 11, 2012 Mike Dettinger rated it really liked it
A surprisingly readable book about the California landscape as experienced and especially as PRACTICED by native Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans. It's not written as a popular exposition, have no illusions there, but it's so fascinating and well written that it swept me up and held me. What a vision of native California! What an earthly paradise and how different from the "white man invades wilderness" views of the landscape. This isn't some sort of apology for all the devastation we ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Hatuxka rated it it was amazing
This book just blew me away. That the breathtaking landscape seen and commented on by such luminaries as John Muir was not, as he and many others thought, a pristinely untouched place, but a managed ecosystem (by the native peoples) is a one the exciting discoveries of my life. It weaves in with the biology and ecology of the native peoples plant community management a history of the atrocities and injustices done to the Indians of California which for me was a message that the place is tragical ...more
Aug 20, 2007 Scot rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone in california or an interest in california history
Kat Anderson has spent the last decade or so examining how the landscapes of pre-contact California were affected by the folks that were already here. Her thesis basically states that human management of the environment in California was so pervasive, there is very little "natural wilderness." From oak woodlands to Sierran meadows, California plant communities were coppiced, dug, and burned on a regular basis. In this tome, she lists management techniques on a plant-by-plant basis, in addition t ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok
Made it to 128 pages when I got distracted by other books. Just couldn't get my groove back into this. Chapter 3, Collision of Worlds, is superb. Then we get into lots of interesting but dry info on various types of botany and agriculture used by the natives. Author made her points and pounded them home which is that the natives truly had a balanced approach to the land and tended to the wild. Their ways in hindsight seem far superior to the educated or modern approach to land management-particu ...more
May 15, 2007 Charlie rated it really liked it
This is an important book that anyone involved with management of California ecosystems should read. My only complaint: some of the information on management of some resources, especially those related to baskety/coppicing, seemed to be approached in a somewhat redundant way, and could have been addressed more succinctly. In any event, it is a shame that they don't require everyone working for the Forest Service, Park Service, and other land management agencies in California, to read this book.
Aug 03, 2012 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Dr. Anderson is an expert on this fascinating and little known history of California Indians. Americans have long labored under the misconception that the Native Americans lived only lightly on the land, and it was all here for the taking, empty and unused, when the colonists arrived. Nothing could be further from the truth.

She explains in detail how the Native Americans changed and affected the landscape of California and the source of her knowledge. An expert in a fascinating area.
Sep 29, 2013 Dpdwyer rated it really liked it
Shelves: resource
This is a great resource book and a good read if you want a lot of detail. It describes how, without farming per se, California Native American tribes altered their various environments--by fire, by thinning, by pruning etc--to increase food and materials necessary for their lives and livelihoods. It belongs on the shelf of every Californian who hikes and wonders about the native plants and how they can be used.
This was really good - took a long time to read, and had some catchup on Native American history that I was less interested in, but overall very educational. The overview of foods, plant types and tending methods was well worth it. I rather hoped for more information about the botany of California and where things grow together and how they can be tended.
May 24, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
Excellent book on how the natives in California lived, worked, and ate in their surroundings before the state of California was official. We should be able to live in our environment the same way.

This book has helped me with ideas on how people may have lived in Mississippi before European settlers - which is helpful for my job as an archaeologist.
Letecia Layson
Jun 21, 2015 Letecia Layson rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most remarkable books on California history and the Native Peoples who created our the abundant landscape and habitat support biodiversity. It is of vital importance to anyone concerned about the environment, permaculture, and how to live on/in right relationship with the land.
Adam Azeris
Jan 04, 2016 Adam Azeris rated it it was amazing
I did not finish this book, I only checked out the introduction and the first chapter. The amount of information is staggering though I did find it absolutely compelling & eye opening.
Oct 16, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: plant people, nature mystics, gardeners, biologists, environmentalists
The precolumbian "New World" was not untouched wilderness. This study chronicles the land management techniques of the native Californians.
Feb 06, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing
superb. my mind and perspectives regarding our Western relationship with nature turned inside out and exploded.
Nic Paget-Clarke
May 10, 2014 Nic Paget-Clarke rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read.
alex carter
Nov 18, 2012 alex carter rated it it was amazing
fascinating and information rich.
Oct 25, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it
very academic, but good!
Kenneth Lagana
Kenneth Lagana rated it it was amazing
Oct 20, 2016
Jackson marked it as to-read
Oct 15, 2016
Kit Veerkamp
Kit Veerkamp marked it as to-read
Oct 14, 2016
steve worthley
steve worthley rated it liked it
Oct 16, 2016
Marnie Glickman
Marnie Glickman rated it it was ok
Oct 07, 2016
James is currently reading it
Oct 06, 2016
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