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American Indians and National Forests tells the untold story of how the U.S. Forest Service and tribal nations dealt with sweeping changes in forest use, ownership, and management over the last century and a half. Indians and U.S. foresters came together over a shared conservation ethic on many cooperative endeavors; yet, they often clashed over how the nation's forests ought to be valued and cared for on matters ranging from huckleberry picking and vision quests to road building and recreation development.
All national forest lands were once Indian lands. Tribes' modern-day interests in their ancestral lands run the gamut, from asserting treaty rights to hunt and fish to protecting their people's burial grounds and other sacred places to having a say in ecological restoration.
Marginalized in American society and long denied a seat at the table of public land stewardship, American Indian tribes have at last taken their rightful place and are making themselves heard. Weighing indigenous perspectives on the environment is an emerging trend in public land management in the United States and around the world. The Forest Service has been a strong partner in that movement over the past quarter century.
Theodore Catton is a historian and co-proprietor of Environmental History Workshop in Missoula, Montana. He is an associate research professor of history at the University of Montana. He is the author of Inhabited Wilderness: Indians, Eskimos, and National Parks in Alaska and National Park, City Playground: Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century.
"Catton covers a range of important issues, from specific case studies of tribal and USFS failures and successes, to macro-level discussions about Indian law, federal land use, and the nature of tribal sovereignty."
– Jeffrey Shepherd, author of We Are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People