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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

4.56 of 5 stars 4.56  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  17 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
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
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
Angela Dawn
May 06, 2007 Angela Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Mike Dettinger
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Oct 16, 2007 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
superb. my mind and perspectives regarding our Western relationship with nature turned inside out and exploded.
Nic Paget-Clarke
One of the best books I've ever read.
alex carter
fascinating and information rich.
very academic, but good!
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