International Institute for
Indigenous Resource Managemen

WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING IN MAY 2007

During any month of the year the staff and associates of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management read hundreds of books, journal articles, conference proceedings, environmental assessments, and other writings. This column is our way of sharing with our readers, those writings we consider the most important and, for what it's worth, the reasons why we think they're worth reading or having.

Why We Should Preserve The Manhattan Project by Richard Rhodes.
The World's Richest Indian: The Scandal Over Jackson Barnett's Oil Fortune by Tanis C. Thorne.
Cultural Consumption and Everyday Life by John Storey.
Kumeyaay: A History Textbook, Volume I Precontact to 1893 by Michael Connolly Miskwish.

Why We Should Preserve The Manhattan Project
By Richard Rhodes
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2007
In an essay in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Richard Rhodes, Pulitizer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and a member of the board of directors of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, calls for the preservation of parts of the atomic heritage of the United States. Rhodes argues that the facilities of the Manhattan Project are not just historical artifacts but are part of the social fabric of our society saying that when we lose parts of our physical past, we lose parts of our common social past as well. The operative question for Rhodes is not whether the Manhattan Project was a great scientific, engineering, and public works achievement or a monument to man's inhumanity to man. Rather, he asks, was it a historically significant enterprise. It's hard to disagree with these premises. However, based on our work on federal facilities cleanup, we think the preservation of the Manhattan Project serves another, even more important purpose, i.e., to serve as a mnemonic to remind future generations not only of the great scientific and engineering feats that took place at Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Rocky Flats, but also of the grievous insults to the environment wrought, and in many instances, still remain in those places. I'm skeptical of efforts to hide our past under caps, liners, and grassy mounds in places that are newly named Leafy Knolls or Rolling Hills. I much prefer celebrations of the past like the Secret City Festival at Oak Ridge where the highlights include a Manhattan Project Reunion and Manhattan Project site tours including K-25 and Happy Valley, Y-12, and the X-10 Graphite Reactor. Let me reinforce my agreement with Rhode's basic thrust by paraphrasing him, if preserving parts of the Manhattan Project helps future generations remember what made these "brownfield" developments brown in the first instance, then that's a good enough reason for me. Mervyn L. Tano
Books by Richard Rhodes: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.  
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The World's Richest Indian: The Scandal Over Jackson Barnett's Oil Fortune
By Tanis C. Thorne
Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN: 0195182987
The publisher calls The World's Richest Indian the first biography of Jackson Barnett, a Creek Indian from Oklahoma who owned 160 acres in the middle of the world's most productive oil field. This well-researched, elegantly written book by Tanis C. Thorne is much more than that. Professor Thorne places Barnett and his wealth in the middle of the quagmire that was, and as she demonstrates with the Cobell case, still is, American Indian policy. Barnett's generosity and apparent disinterest in his wealth were manifestations of a worldview incomprehensible to white America. Senator Henry Dawes, for example, explained that selfishness was the root of advanced civilization and he could not understand why the Native Americans were not motivated to possess and achieve more than their neighbors. But if Barnett was not so motivated, there were many others who were. Jackson Barnett's story is the story of the machinations, intrigue, cupidity, racism, paternalism, good and bad intentions of individuals and institutions including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Baptist Church, and the State of Oklahoma who competed for control of his fortune. His is the human face behind the ambiguous policies that encouraged and prolonged that competition. Mervyn L. Tano
Other books by Tanis C. Thorne: The Many Hands of My Relations: French and Indians on the Lower Missouri.  
Books about the Allotment Acts: One Hundred Million Acres; The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian lands, (Civilization of American Indian).  
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Cultural Consumption and Everyday Life
By John Storey
Hodder Arnold Publishing, 1999, ISBN: 0340720360
 

This may seem a stretch but this is really about climate change and Indian tribes. Thus far, suggested tribal responses to climate change include undertaking emissions-capping approaches such green generation and carbon sequestration. These approaches are more than a bit silly. Realistically, Indian generated electricity is not going to move very far from the reservation and even if it could, the effect on carbon emissions would be infinitesimal.

You are what you eat—and you are what you wear, what you drive, and where you live. Consumption shapes identity. Consumption also shapes energy demand and therefore influences greenhouse gas emissions. As the first Americans to bear the burdens of climate change, my sense is that Native America, and especially Alaska Natives, would be better served to use that situation to claim the moral high ground and to exercise national and international leadership by spreading the gospel of a new culture of consumption—a culture focused on reducing demand. If this is to occur, we'll need a better understanding of the theoretical and operational framework of consumption. Thus, John Storey's Cultural Consumption and Everyday Life.

The book is a survey of theories of cultural consumption and not an introduction to the subject although Storey, in his first chapter, briefly sets out the historical role of consumption. The reader who believes, as I do, that all forms of consumption and therefore, all forms of production and service are, to one degree or another, cultural, will not be dissuaded. The book does a good job of examining the historical work on the consumption of culture and outlining different theories. It does an excellent job in directing further reading in this arena. Mervyn L. Tano

Other books by John Storey: What Is Cultural Studies?: A Reader; Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader.  
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Kumeyaay: A History Textbook, Volume I Precontact to 1893
By Michael Connolly Miskwish
Sycuan Press, 2007, ISBN: 0979095107

Education, and more specifically, the schools, were powerful weapons used by colonial powers to subjugate the colonized—be they Maori, Kanaka Maoli, or Kumeyaay. The schools as instrumentalities of the ruling elite were not only charged to teach new, modern, and “superior” ways, they were also responsible for the eradication of the old, traditional, and “primitive” ways. Old identities were very often forcibly exchanged for new ones defined by the colonizers.

Although not always characterized as such, much of what Indian education today is about is the decolonization of education. When possible Indian tribes and other indigenous peoples have established their own schools with classes taught by their own teachers often in their own language. Alternatively, Indian education programs offer up small doses of generalized Indian history and culture. Decolonization is not easy nor is it inexpensive.

All the more reason to applaud the creation of the Sycuan Press by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and the arrival of Kumeyaay: A History Textbook by Michael Connolly Miskwish. Mike has written the Kumeyaay history of the Kumeyaay that challenges the prevailing misconceptions about the “docile Mission Indians” who are actually adept and adaptive warriors. Kumeyaay: A History Textbook goes a long way toward addressing the problem of what heretofore has generally been a one-sided competion of histories and reflects the growing power of Indian tribes to reestablish their identities and authorities. The book is illustrated with historical and modern photos but I think teachers will find its strong points to be its maps, time-lines and original source materials like the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mike has also included an extensive bibliography. A list of some discussion questions at the end of each chapter would be a useful addition. Even more useful would be a website where teachers could download the maps for classroom use. Mervyn L. Tano

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Other books about the Kumeyaay: The Early Ethnography of the Kumeyaay (Classics in California Anthropology); Kumeyaay Pottery: Paddle-and-Anvil Techniques of Southern California (Ballena Press Anthropological Papers; no. 15).  
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