Invoking the Ecological Indian: Rhetoric, Culture, and the Environment
Voice and Environmental Communication
Jennifer Peeples, Stephen Depoe
In his 1999 book, The Ecological Indian: Myth and History, Shepard Krech III dissects the popular modern image of Native American as environmental prophet, living in special harmony with land, plants, and animals. The idea that Indians, as a whole, are somehow more closely concerned with or aware of ecological stability and sustainability, he writes, is a construct built from outsider perspectives and European perceptions of noble savagery. Yet, in the modern era, many Native American activists and leaders have indeed invoked a language of ecological conscience and consciousness, while encouraging Indian action toward environmental conservation. Despite Krech’s assertion that the stereotype, whether well-intended or not, is ultimately “dehumanizing” (1999, p. 26), it seems that the “Ecological Indian” is no longer merely a construct imposed from the outside, but rather an important rhetorical ethos/identity for Native Americans engaging in political discussions under a Euro-American hegemony.
wind turbine, wild rice, food sovereignty, strip mining, political ecology
Schmitt, Casey R., "Invoking the Ecological Indian: Rhetoric, Culture, and the Environment" (2014). Gonzaga Faculty Climate Research Bibliography. 2.