Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources” as Want to Read:
Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  37 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 June 14th 2005 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tending the Wild, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tending the Wild

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  236 ratings  ·  37 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources
Jun 23, 2014 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 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
Tom Lichtenberg
Jan 15, 2012 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
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
-"...the foundation of this book—indigenous people's stewardship of the land carries important lessons for us in the modern world..."
-"There were no clear-cut distinction between hunter-gatherers—the category into which most California Indians had been tossed—and the more "advanced" agricultural peoples of the ancient world."
-"Through twelve thousand or more years of existence in what is now California, humans knit themselves to nature through their vast knowledge base and practical experience."
Angela Dawn
May 06, 2007 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
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ag-food
I would give it ten stars if I could.
Zach Elfers
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books ever written. This is about more than anthropology, ethnobotany, and ecology. This is about a lifeway that sustained our ancestors for thousands of years, not just in California but across the world. Tending the Wild reveals what native peoples have long known, and what most of the colonized world has forgotten. While M. Kat Anderson never quite spells it out, her well-researched study still effectively illustrates the point that living an empathetic existence with ...more
Apr 04, 2008 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
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This may be the most solarpunk book I've ever read though, of course, this book was written far earlier. A fascinating look at what constitutes ethnobotany, kind of text book in terms of writing. There were bits in the middle (especially with the burning practices) that grew to be a little redundant, but overall, very informative. ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
very academic, but good!
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Almost a great book. It does a good job explaining indigenous land management techniques and shows that hunting and gathering was much more sophisticated than most people assume. Rather than just wandering around and opportunistically snatching up any resource they happened to stumble upon, the people of California had very carefully worked to maintain a landscape that was more productive and less prone to catastrophic wildfires. By systematically burning the landscape at key times they were abl ...more
Nathan Zorndorf
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is divided into 3 parts:
1. History of Californian natives
2. Native land management strategies and methods
3. How to incorporate indigenous knowledge, practices, and cultural values into modern society

My takeaways were:
- Californian natives were treated terribly and their populations decimated by three distinct waves of settlers (missionaries, rancheros, and miners).

- The ecosystem of California was radically altered through these three waves, over the the last 300-400 years, as a result
Max Carmichael
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Clearly a labor of academic love, Anderson's paradigm-shifting book may have sparked a quiet revolution among a tiny minority of its readers, but its revelations continue to be overlooked by the majority of biologists and anthropologists, who have too much of their careers and identities invested in the fallacies they were taught in school.

While working independently toward some of Anderson's myriad observations, I glimpsed this book on the shelves of friends time and again, knowing I'd have to
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
With thorough research and a slowly built argument, Anderson presents a case for an entire paradigm shift that inverts traditional interpretations of history in the Western US and an American understanding of nature. The text is gentle in its assertions and at times exhaustive in establishing its points, but the ideas are no less startling and brilliant. She presents a compelling case that the rich biodiversity of the state of California was, in fact, due to regular, mild disturbances such as fi ...more
Peter Turnbull
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Documents the incredible number of different ways that California natives managed lands below about 6000 feet in California. Fire was one of the chief management tools, but there were literally dozens of ways in which it was used. Some are obvious--clearing brush to keep larger conflagrations from happening--but others are not: such as burning the litter beneath oak trees so that the acorns can be harvested without being damaged but the various insects and other creatures that would live n the l ...more
Vanessa Ricci-Thode
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a great book full of fascinating history and valuable information on traditional ecological knowledge than can help combat the destruction we've wrought on this planet. Got super repetitive in places, but maybe that's an academic thing? I don't read a lot of academic work. But I thoroughly enjoyed this. ...more
Laura Alice Watt
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in land management in California, or really anywhere in the U.S., as indigenous peoples had enormous influence on many places we now consider "natural." ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
An important and true idea about how indigenous humans were key players in healthy, productive, and balanced “wild” landscapes in California. Writing was not engaging.
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kaz by: Christine
Chapter 4: Method of Caring for the Land
Chapter 5: Landscapes of stewardship
Chapter 6: Basketry: Cultivating Forbs, Sedges, Grasses, and Tules
William Dossett
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: restoration
Not great writing but very informative and fascinating, important treatment of a topic that deserves more attention
Sep 24, 2015 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
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tending the Wild is an intriguing mix of history, culture, and science.

The book started off with a sort of historical review. It was disturbing and sad to read about how native Californians were treated by Europeans, Mexicans, and other Americans. Of course, I knew some of the things that occurred but I hadn't read about them since I was in school decades ago. I think it was an important reminder of what did actually happen.

The bulk of the book described and documented the extensive wildlife ma
May 13, 2016 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 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
Aug 20, 2007 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
May 15, 2007 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. ...more
Sep 11, 2010 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
Aug 03, 2012 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 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.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
  • Desert Solitaire
  • The Topeka School
  • The Year of the Witching
  • It Can't Happen Here
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate
  • Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story
  • A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children
  • The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker's Guide to Meal Planning
  • The Mercies
  • Women's Wisdom from the Heart of Africa
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
  • Winter Counts
  • The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World
  • The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
  • The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Sally Thorne, author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine, explores what it means to take risks for love, and for yourself, in her newest...
103 likes · 11 comments