Briefly Noted: Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country

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Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country, by Marsha L. Weisiger, Foreword by William Cronon, paperback (University of Washington Press, October 25, 2011), 418 pages.

From the Publisher: Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country offers a fresh interpretation of the history of Navajo (Diné) 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.

Awards: Winner of the Hal K. Rothman Award, the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize, the Caroline Bancroft Honor Prize, and the Gaspar Perez de Villagra Award

From the Reviewers: “While past accounts have either emphasized the view of the New Dealers or the Dine, Marsha Weisiger uses both fresh and refreshed data, adds layers of gender and ecological analyses, and brings a variety of interpretive lenses to this history. . . . Her work is the most comprehensive examination of this episode to date, and her use of interdisciplinary techniques to see an issue from a multitude of perspectives makes this book a new model for environmental history.” – Agricultural History  

Contents

FOREWORD: Sheep Are Good to Think With / William Cronon

Preface
Acknowledgments

PROLOGUE:  A View from Sheep Springs

PART 1: FAULT LINES
1.  Counting Sheep
2.  Range Wars

PART 2:  BEDROCK
3.  With Our Sheep We Were Created
4.  A Woman’s Place

PART 3:  TERRA FIRMA
5.  Herding Sheep
6.  Hoofed Locusts

PART 4:  EROSION
7.  Mourning Livestock
8.  Drawing Lines on a Map
9.  Making Memories

EPILOGUE:  A View from the Defiance Plateau

See Also: Reviews in American Scientist and The American Indian Quarterly

A Journey from Sheep Ranch to Shakespeare

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5 responses

  1. I had no idea this had happened. Again, the government not thinking things through…

  2. Sounds fascinating, I’m writing a historical fiction set after the Civil War about the Lakota, and am a student of Native American history and tradition, I’ll definitely give this a read!

  3. Best of luck on your historical fiction. My focus is Montana, so I find most of my resources via the book reviews on the Montana Historical Society’s magazine.

    Malcolm

  4. Pingback: My Book Reviews of 2011 « Malcolm's Round Table