Indian Myth

Although I am inclined to agree with Barbara Edelman's criticism (Letters, Jan. 7) of your article on the Acoma nation (Dec. 26), I find that she displays a romantic disregard for the reality of the Indian's existence in North America, stating that "no harm came to (the earth)" and that "no animals became extinct." In fact, mammoths and mastodons, hunted by native Americans, are extinct. Indians used fire to a large degree in managing their lands; the suppression of fires in Yosemite Valley has led to the decreasing size of "artificial" meadows initially thought to be "natural."

I do not mean to imply that the modern destruction of the biosphere is comparable, but it is important to know that man has always affected his environment on this continent. Romantic views of history serve little use in modern attempts to gain an equilibrium between man and other species. Merely revering a fictional existence will offer us little guidance.

The Indians of North America can provide valuable lessons for us today; they were the original pioneers on this continent and came much closer to dealing with the realities of geography and climate than have we. Let us not trivialize their experience by encapsulating it in a hoary myth, but instead strive to incorporate their insights into our actions.



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