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In the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, John Collier, head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, instituted a plan to save the land on the Navajo Reservation, which had dangerously degraded due to a combination of drought and overgrazing The crux of the plan involved a significant livestock cull, essentially wiping out a majority of the animals upon which the Navajo s Dine s cultural and economic life revolved In Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country, Marsha Weisiger of the University of Oregon examines this traumatic period in Southwestern Native history a period which saw the destruction of Dine economic independence, left a deep cultural scar, and, in the end, was unsuccessful at resuscitating the land Weisiger claims that though Dine livestock which included sheep, goats, and horses did damage the land through overgrazing, New Deal conservationists made the situation worse By refusing to take into account Dine economic needs or culture, including their spiritual connection to the livestock and women s place in society, and brushing aside collaboration with the Dine themselves, scientists ensured that their plan would end disastrously In the end, Weisiger argues, Collier and the New Dealer s greatest failure came from refusing to acknowledge the they were dealing with both cultural AND ecological issues In their myopic focus on restoring the land, New Deal conservationists lost sight of the fact that a truly sustainable relationship with the natural world requires an ethical relationship with the land, with those who people it, and with the cultures that give them meaning 11.Weisiger structures her work in a non chronological fashion First discussing the cull itself, Collier s motivations, and the initial resistance from the Dine , she then offers the competing narratives told by conservationists and the Dine to explain the state of the land Afterwards she plunges into Dine consciousness and culture with discussions of the place of livestock in Navajo society and worldview, as well as the role of women Weisiger claims that by dismissing spiritual role of livestock in Navajo culture, as well as ignoring the important and autonomous role women had in Dine society, conservationists deeply misunderstood the people they were working with, and only served to foster resistance and anger when they attempted to institute unpopular policies From here, Weisiger follows achronological path, examining the growth of Dine pastoralism, observations of the degrading rangeland, and the plans and implementation of Collier and conservation scientists culling policy Though the structure of the book is unique for a history, Weisiger flows through each section expertly, and the book rarely feels disjointed.The culling of the livestock was significant not just for its effect on the land, or even the immediate material damage experienced by the Dine , but for the changes in cultural consciousness it caused Throughout the book, Weisiger continuously brings up the collective memory of the event held by the Dine Though the tribe itself was not unified in its dismissal of the necessity of stock reduction, the way in which the period unfolded, including leaving animal carcasses exposed and wiping out the small herds of subsistence ranchers, government officials created a tribal memory of grief and betrayal that the Dine maintained for generations This led to a legacy of distrust, which included voting down Collier s Indian Reorganization Act She notes that any future attempts to reduce livestock were hindered by the baggage of the New Deal reduction policy Weisiger s focus on the tribe s collective understanding of the period is beneficial, as it demonstrates that history is not always important solely for the actual events, but for the ideas and historical memory it creates.Weisiger s work is a valuable contribution to both Native American history and environmental history in the West Her account of the event is nuanced and, by refusing to turn either side into a villain, she demonstrates the negative consequences that can be caused by well meaning officials who refuse to entertain a deep understanding of the people they are working with Her work on this period also supports the work of other environmental scientists, such as Nancy Langston, who explored the history of conservation policies in the Malheur Basin during the twentieth century in Where Land and Water Meet Though examining different regions and populations, both Weisiger and Langston come to a similar conclusion in regards to conservation policy in order for environmental policies to be effective, multiple voices must be taken into account officials cannot simply impose scientific ideas on a region, but must work with the people affected and, through conflict and negotiation, derive a workable solution By resisting New Deal reduction policies, Dine pastoralists expressed their dissatisfaction and established their autonomy and desire for self determination By dismissing these needs while attempting to instate his reduction policies, Collier doomed his endeavor to failure, and his attempts to aid the Dine only resulted in damaging their economic strength and created a legacy of dependence and betrayal.Weisiger acknowledges that the problems the rangeland was experiencing were deep and complex, further complicated by the refusal of many Navajo to admit that the land was degrading Nothing alone would have saved it, but officials refusal to treat the Navajo as equal partners meant that creating a culturally and economically acceptable plan was nearly impossible 242 Overall, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country offers a balanced and insightful view on an unfortunate period in conservation history By weaving a story of land, people, and policy, Marsha Weisiger demonstrates the complex needs of both the natural world and the people that inhabit it, and shows that when either are neglected both sides can suffer. (((DOWNLOAD))) ☛ Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country ⇘ Dreaming Of Sheep In Navajo Country Offers A Fresh Interpretation Of The History Of Navajo Dine Pastoralism The Dramatic Reduction Of Livestock On The Navajo Reservation In The S When Hundreds Of Thousands Of Sheep, Goats, And Horses Were Killed Was An Ambitious Attempt By The Federal Government To Eliminate Overgrazing On An Arid Landscape And To Better The Lives Of The People Who Lived There Instead, The Policy Was A Disaster, Resulting In The Loss Of Livelihood For Navajos Especially Women, The Primary Owners And Tenders Of The Animals Without Significant Improvement Of The Grazing LandsLivestock On The Reservation Increased Exponentially After The Late S As And People And Animals, Hemmed In On All Sides By Anglo And Hispanic Ranchers, Tried To Feed Themselves On An Increasingly Barren Landscape At The Beginning Of The Twentieth Century, Grazing Lands Were Showing Signs Of Distress As Soil Conditions Worsened, Weeds Unpalatable For Livestock Pushed Out Nutritious Native Grasses, Until By The S Federal Officials Believed Conditions Had Reached A Critical Point Well Intentioned New Dealers Made Serious Errors In Anticipating The Human And Environmental Consequences Of Removing Or Killing Tens Of Thousands Of AnimalsEnvironmental Historian Marsha Weisiger Examines The Factors That Led To The Poor Condition Of The Range And Explains How The Bureau Of Indian Affairs, The Navajos, And Climate Change Contributed To It Using Archival Sources And Oral Accounts, She Describes The Importance Of Land And Stock Animals In Navajo Culture By Positioning Women At The Center Of The Story, She Demonstrates The Place They Hold As Significant Actors In Native American And Environmental History Dreaming Of Sheep In Navajo Country Is A Compelling And Important Story That Looks At The People And Conditions That Contributed To A Botched Policy Whose Legacy Is Still Felt By The Navajos And Their Lands Today William Cronon s foreword mentions how great it is that Weisiger suggests that we think with sheep New Deal scientists acted in genuine concern for the environment and the Navajos to kill off countless grazing animals in the 1930s to prevent overgrazing of the American Southwest, but they neglected to ask the Navajos about what it would mean to them, and thus they came off looking like arrogant bureaucrats that didn t help Weisiger pays particular attention to the fact that women the weavers and gatekeepers to grazing land sufferedacutely from the government interventions than men gendered cultural details She rethinks this episode through the lenses of Enlightenment science, progressive optimism, Dine culture, and the gendered experiences of women and men, and not least the changing web of material and symbolic relationships within which animals and people occupy shared landscapes xiii An environmental history, this book explores the dynamic relationship between livestock grazing, environmental change, cultural identity, gender, and memory during the New Deal era of the 1930s and its aftermath xvi Navajos overgrazed the land, but federal officials made matters worse they failed to treat Navajos esp women as real partners in developing and implementing a workable conservation program Result collective memory of trauma, a long lasting rejection of range conservation policies, ands a chronic wasteland xvi Foregrounds cultural and ecological issues Cultural differences between Dine Navajo and New Deal conservationists Dine culture in the 1930s pastoral ethnic identity and role of women This was not just an ecological problem, but a cultural one Killing livestock was a cultural violence that was incomprehensible to New Dealers who didn t ask Culture matters 11 Livestock reduction slaughtering sheep was a horrific, traumatic experience 1933 launched At first livestock was shipped to canneries to slaughter and use meet to feed school children, but later, federal agents travelled to homes and slaughtered livestock in front of the owners 18 cruelty and waste powerlessness Livestock as their mother giver of life 18 The Dine saw this as imbalancing not only the land but upsetting the spiritual balance the land world was at stake defiance toward BIA and John Collier in particular ironically he championed self determination and pastoralism on their behalf social reformer 20 Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country offers a fresh interpretation of the history of Navajo Din pastoralism The dramatic reduction of livestock on the Navajo Reservation in the 1930s when hundreds of thousands of sheep, goats, and horses were killed was an ambitious attempt by the federal government to eliminate overgrazing on an arid landscape and to better the lives of the people who lived there Instead, the policy was a disaster, resulting in the loss of livelihood for Navajos especially women, the primary owners and tenders of the animals without significant improvement of the grazing lands Livestock on the reservation increased exponentially after the late 1860s asandpeople and animals, hemmed in on all sides by Anglo and Hispanic ranchers, tried to feed themselves on an increasingly barren landscape At the beginning of the twentieth century, grazing lands were showing signs of distress As soil conditions worsened, weeds unpalatable for livestock pushed out nutritious native grasses, until by the 1930s federal officials believed conditions had reached a critical point Well intentioned New Dealers made serious errors in anticipating the human and environmental consequences of removing or killing tens of thousands of animals Environmental historian Marsha Weisiger examines the factors that led to the poor condition of the range and explains how the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Navajos, and climate change contributed to it Using archival sources and oral accounts, she describes the importance of land and stock animals in Navajo culture By positioning women at the center of the story, she demonstrates the place they hold as significant actors in Native American and environmental history a botched policy whose legacy is still felt by the Navajos and their lands today. when it comes to attempting to reason with power in the face of genocide i shut down i refuse this predicament, can t come to terms with it at first i started taking weisiger s careful exploration of bringing two key diametrically opposable understandings of land, one a tradition the other a science, is for the sake of creative policymaking but it s actually a powerful feminist case study on the value of consensus decision making the most amazing example is in dine tradition that makes a place for even the colonizer s sheep, due to its role in subsistence, within dine creation myth i think of donna haraway where nature and culture are understood as one consensus fabric, a sankofa malinche cyborg holding past and future there s still one way this book can be read as an outline for creative governance, but i m hoping it will be read rather as a plan for its destruction and the colonizer s empire of bones is destroyed by subverting their concentrated power by holding all things in relation. Marsha Weisiger adds a much needed dimension to the current historiography surrounding the Navajo New Deal She succeeds in placing human and cultural dimensions at the center of her environmental history a method, she argues, that New Deal conservationists and Commissioner John Collier failed to consider when implementing stock reduction She also considers the important role that Navajo women played in maintaining cultural and economic life ways Here too, the New Dealers failed to broaden their horizons when crafting solutions to the environmental degradation of Navajo land A well written and balanced account. I m not a huge fan of this kind of work so I wasn t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did Weisiger documents the failures of both the federal government and the Din Navajo in response to the failing range on the Navajo Reservation The mass slaughter of goats, sheep, and horses by the federal government not only failed to repair the range as conservationists hoped, but it also created a powerful legacy that overshadows the better parts of Collier s Indian New Deal program in the Navajo Country. Weisiger did a great job at portraying the tensions of the time and giving both sides an honest, respectful representations This book not only brings up questions about US Indigenous relations historically, but also causes the reader to question the actions of today Have we really improved since the early 20th century Why does the US government and settler society have fixate on the truths of science while ignoring vital spiritual beliefs Great read This book is an insightful examination into the history of the Navajo livestock reduction program implemented in the 1930s While I would like to have readfirst person accounts, the book provides information many people might not know. An amazing achievement.