Are Native Americans the original conservationists?

This week the students will be commenting on whether value systems from various Native American societies constitute conservation. This is a delicate subject that has been interpreted in various ways by postmodern/postcolonial theorists, conservation-biologists, cultural ecologists, and political economists. The explanations range from Native American environmentalism is identity formation in opposition to colonial, oppressive American culture to advocates for returning to small scale approaches to resource use and subsistence with indigenous values attached. The question the students will have to think about is: “do the means to the end matter?” I will return with my thoughts after the students have commented.

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