Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.14 X 9.21 X 0.43 inches | 0.64 pounds

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About the Author

Mark David Spence is Assistant Professor of History at Knox College, Illinois.


"A landmark historical reconstruction of a forgotten story--the eviction of American Indians from a troika of our nation's major parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier. Spence documents the separate but symbiotic developments of the Indian reservation and recreational park systems, the former to corral Indians, the latter to sequester nature; with the twain never to interact therafter. Spence underpins his three compelling narratives with a clear exposition of the evolving 'wilderness' and 'preservationist' ideologies which spelled exclusion for Indian residents of these natural wonders. His riveting chronicle concludes with current tensions, as Indians are attempting to reclaim special rights to these sacrosanct areas and parks are struggling to correct a century of native dispossessions and misrepresentions of the cultural/historical record."--Peter Nabokov, Department of World Arts & Cultures and American Indian Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

"Mark Spence reminds us that the national parks of the United States, which most Americans today regard as sublimely uninhabited wilderness areas, were once home to native peoples who were dispossessed as the parks were created. This book is an important and thought provoking contribution to our understanding of the American landscape and its history."--William Cronon, Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental History, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Stimulating, provocative, and richly researched, Dispossessing the Wilderness pushes us to reassess traditional views of the creation of our national parks in the light of contemporary policies and attitudes toward Indians. Spence's work opens a new dimension in our country's environmental history of interest to all who care about wilderness, justice, and the American landscape."--Carolyn Merchant, Professor of Environmental History, University of California, Berkeley

"...Spence provides insights into Native American histories and their associations with the dominant Anglo culture....[An] excellent book."--CHOICE

"[C]risp prose, exciting subject, and clear argument...[E]xtremely useful for students of environmental, western, and Native American history. Anyone who has marveled at the beauty and wildlife of our national parks will have second thoughts about their cost after reading this book."--American Historical Review

"Dispossesing the Wilderness has many virtues. Accurate, detailed accounts of the creation of Yellowstone and Glacier national parks rest on solid research...Ethnography of pre-park aboriginal use is excellent. So is the selection of photographs."--The Journal of American History

"The book is so well documented and skillfully written that Spence does not need to launch any direct attacks on park personnel or policies. Through his research and storytelling, cultural imperialism speaks for itself. However, Spence goes beyond exposing this shameful story to explain why shifting policies of racial inclusion and exclusion made sense, at the time, within Euro-American culture. No one, after reading this book, will view the national parks in the same way again."--Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Spence unpacks the myth of pristine nature preserved and promoted in the national parks...This succinct study opens up new areas of research in park service scholarship and paves the way for a more comprehensive study of the role and place of Native Americans in the national parks."--The Historian