Monday, November 13, 2017

The Mountain People



Anthropologist Colin Turnbull was born London in 1924, and raised in a surreal upper class family, which he described in his important book, The Human Cycle.  World War Two jolted the pampered lad into the bloody real world.  In the 1950s, he spent lots of time in the Congo, with the Mbuti Pygmies, who inspired his masterpiece, The Forest People.  It was a beautiful life-changing experience to live with healthy, happy humans who were profoundly in love with their sacred forest — nothing like the zombies of England.

When war in the Congo zapped his plans for another visit, he accepted an assignment to learn about the Ik tribe in northeastern Uganda.  The government wanted a plan for transforming them into law-abiding taxpaying farmers.  For unknown thousands of years, they had been hunter-gatherers in the Kidepo Valley, an arid mountainous savannah.

In 1962, their traditional lands became a 540 square mile (1,399 sq km) wildlife preserve, the Kidepo Valley National Park.  Hunting was banned, and the Ik were moved into the mountains.  They were expected to magically shape shift into farmers in a region that experienced droughts about one in every four years.  Turnbull’s study ran from 1965 to 1967, and the first two years were back-to-back droughts.  Crops withered in the fields, the granaries were empty, and about 2,000 people began to starve.  Turnbull described the cultural meltdown in The Mountain People. 

Turnbull wrote, “The hunter and gatherer gives little thought for the morrow, getting his feed fresh, from day to day, with the ready assurance of someone who has come to terms with the world around him.  He knows the world he lives in as few others do, and he lives in sympathy with it, rather than trying to dominate it.”  A farmer can lose a year’s work in one night.  A hunter can only lose a day’s work.

When he first got there, the famine was just beginning.  Two months later, the horror began.  People became totally self-centered.  Their two interests in life were now food and water.  Most became habitual liars, and most took every opportunity steal Turnbull’s stuff.  They pulled many juvenile pranks on him, hoping for him to get hurt or die.  “The people were as unfriendly, uncharitable, inhospitable, and generally mean as any people can be.”  They laughed hard at anyone’s misfortunes.  It was amusing to steal food from the feeble, and push them down.

Upon being weaned at age three, youngsters were thrown out of their parents’ house.  Evicted children formed bands and wandered the countryside looking for something to eat.  Lucky ones found some figs, the unlucky ate dirt and pebbles, and soon died.  Feeding children and elders, who couldn’t take care of themselves, was a foolish waste of precious nutrients.

Turnbull was often scolded for his idiotic generosity.  He was feeding folks who were soon to be dead, cruelly prolonging their misery.  Adults refused to feed their starving parents, or let them into their house.  When they died, most were quickly buried in the family compound, in secrecy.  If the villagers found out, they would expect a funeral ceremony, which required a feast.

Famines were a crappy time to be born.  Nobody was happy to see you, nobody cared.  When out foraging, mothers put their babies down roughly, and didn’t watch them carefully.  Maybe a hungry leopard would relieve her of her little bummer.  One time, a leopard ate a baby.  Sleepy from a delicious meal, the cat laid down for nice nap.  Men found it, killed it, and ate it, baby and all.

Turnbull once took pity on an old woman who was close to death.  He wanted to create a new village, where the abandoned people could be properly cared for.  She was not interested.  She wanted to die near her son, who would not take care of her.  Turnbull fed her, and gave her some food.  She burst into tears, because this triggered memories of “a time when people had helped each other, when people had been kind and good.”  She was the last survivor who remembered the good old days.

Stuff like this fills most of the book.  Turnbull spent 18 months eating by himself in his Range Rover.  For some reason, he got the blues.  He hoped “that we who have been civilized into such empty beliefs as the essential beauty and goodness of humanity may discover ourselves before it is too late.”  “Most of us are unlikely to admit readily that we can sink as low as the Ik, but many of us do, and with far less cause.”  Whoa!

I first read The Mountain People in 2001, and it snapped my mind.  It was an unforgettable book that you wished you could forget.  I was blindsided by the misery, cruelty, and horror, and this was the impression that I took away from the book.  In 2017, I read the book a second time, and it blew me away again, for another reason.  Near the end of the book, Turnbull shared some troubling conclusions that I was too dazed to grasp in my first reading.  He held up a mirror, so his well-fed readers could see their own deformities, and get their noses rubbed in them.

Having spent years with the Mbuti, he had directly experienced a healthy functional society.  Before that, he had grown to adulthood in twentieth century Western society, a world of atomic bombs, concentration camps, and the brutal extermination of tens of millions.  It was the opposite of a functional society.  It had become pathologically individualized and de-socialized — similar to the Ik, and in many ways worse.  The Ik give us a taste of our days to come.

“We pursue those trivial, idiotic technological encumbrances and imagine them to be the luxuries that make life worth living, and all the time we are losing our potential for social rather than individual survival, for hating as well as loving, losing perhaps our last chance to enjoy life with all the passion that is our nature and being.”  Today, Americans speed down the highways in their motorized wheelchairs while the polar ice melts, and monster hurricanes obliterate societies.  Sorry kids!

Here is a comment, from 45 years ago, that could have been written today.  “The state itself, is resting ever more on both intellectual and physical violence to assert itself.”  Heads of state and their assistants fill the air with “loud-mouthed anti-intellectual blabberings.”  The populace learns not to believe, trust, love, hope, or think.

The Mbuti enjoyed a society harmonized by a common set of beliefs, values, and lifestyles.  Everyone was on the same channel.  Our society is a cranky boisterous mob of numerous competing cultures, classes, and religious beliefs.  “In larger-scale societies we are accustomed to diversity of belief, we even applaud ourselves for our tolerance, not recognizing that a society not bound together by a single powerful belief is not a society at all, but a political association of individuals held together only by the presence of law and force — the existence of which is a violence.” 

Love is not a hardwired function, like breathing.  It has to be learned.  When love is not reciprocated, it dies.  The Ik demonstrated that love can go extinct.  When lonely consumers are starving for love in modern society, many choose to purchase companions. “The keeping of pets, which is one of the characteristics special to civilization, indicates a deterioration in human relationships.”

The Ik were excessively individualistic, spending their days in solitude and boredom, rarely forming significant relationships.  Each one was alone, and content to be alone.  Turnbull often sat with Ik men on a ridge overlooking the valley, gazing into space.  Day after day, all day long, not a word was ever spoken.  This reminds me of the spooky smart phone cult in my town today.  People gather around tables in a café, each silently gazing at their glowing screens.

The Ik expelled their children from home at age three.  Westerners wait until kindergarten, when the kids begin their decades of institutionalization.  The state now oversees health, education, and welfare.  We are indoctrinated with an “individualism that is preached with a curious fanaticism.”  This radical individualism “is reflected in our cutthroat economics, where almost anything is justified in terms of an expanding economy and the consequent confinement of the world’s riches in the pockets of the few.”

When it was released in 1972, The Mountain People got a lot of attention.  Immediately, hordes of dignified scholars explosively soiled their britches.  Heresy!  The Ik were nothing but an extreme exception, a bizarre mutation!  Civilized humans are moral and virtuous!  We are the greatest!

Turnbull, Colin M., The Mountain People, Touchstone, New York, 1972.

HERE is a 5-minute video about Colin Turnbull and the Mbuti.  The narrator says, “His advisor at Oxford wrote that Colin Turnbull is tall, fair, handsome, impulsive, and elusive.  All his screws are loose, real communication with him seems impossible.  Perhaps one has to belong to one of the backwards races in order to get his wavelength.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration



My mother, who was born in 1916, had a “sweet tooth.”  When I was born, she had dentures, no teeth.  White flour and sugar were common ingredients in many meals I consumed between childhood and into my 40s.  She got diabetes, and I did too.  My first dentist said I had teeth like a horse.  They are crowded and crooked.  All four of my wisdom teeth were surgically removed, because they were growing sideways, toward the molar next door.  I brushed my teeth, but still got cavities.
Back in the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth also had a sweet tooth.  Sidney Mintz told an amusing story about her meeting with a German gentleman, who was deeply impressed when her smile revealed a mouthful of black teeth.  The peasants looked much healthier than the royalty, because they couldn’t afford sugar, which was an expensive luxury in those days.
In 1893, Weston Price became a dentist in Cleveland, Ohio.  As the years passed, Price became aware of a highly unusual trend — the amount of tooth decay that he observed was growing sharply.  Something strange was happening.  He was watching a serious health crisis emerge right before his eyes, and he didn’t understand the cause.  Price suspected that the problem was related to dietary changes.
His curiosity grew.  Finally, he decided to do some travelling, in search of healthy people, to see how they lived differently.  He spent much of the 1930s visiting many lands, examining the teeth of the residents, taking photographs of them, and studying their diets.  He went to remote places where people continued to live in their traditional manner, in regions including Switzerland, Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Arctic, and Peru.  He found many people with beautiful perfect teeth, and he found many with serious dental problems, like his patients in Cleveland.  Importantly, he discovered a clear difference in the diets of the two groups.
The people with happy teeth ate the traditional diet of their region, never used a toothbrush, and never saw a dentist.  The people with crappy teeth ate a “modernized” diet, including white flour, refined sugar, canned vegetables, jams, and marmalades.  Those who lived in remote villages in the hills were fine, but those who lived by the shore, and ate imported modern foods, suffered for it.  If one brother stayed in the hills, and the other brother moved to the city by the sea, the difference in their dental health was often striking.  Among those eating the modernized diet, the incidence of problems varied from place to place.  In some locations, only 25 percent of them had problems, but in other locations up to 75 percent were affected.
The children of those who ate modernized diets had even worse problems.  In addition to tooth decay, their dental arches were deformed, so their teeth were crowded and crooked (like mine).  Their nostrils were narrower, forcing some to be mouth breathers.  Their skulls formed in unusual shapes and sizes, often narrower than normal.  Their hips and pelvic bones formed abnormally, making childbirth more difficult.  They suffered from far higher rates of chronic and degenerative disease, including cancer, heart disease, and tuberculosis.  Their overall health was often weak or sickly.  Some were mentally deficient.
Price finally went home and wrote a book to document his findings.  Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was published in 1939.  The book is loaded with stunning photos.  Readers will never forget the powerful pictures.  Most of the book’s contents, including the pictures, are available HERE.  Click through the pages.  His writing includes some racist language that was common in that era.
For the first 200 pages, the chapters proceed, region by region, comparing the health of the people, based on their diet.  His descriptions get repetitive, because wherever he goes, he reports the same findings — people who ate their traditional diet had healthy teeth, and people who ate the modern diet more often had lousy teeth and other problems.  
All of those enjoying good health included some animal-based foods in their diet.  He noted, “It is significant that I have as yet found no group that was building and maintaining good bodies exclusively on plant foods.  A number of groups are endeavoring to do so with marked evidence of failure.”
I did some research to see if white flour and sugar were newer foods for the working class and poor.  Yes, they were.  By the late nineteenth century, both products had become widely available and inexpensive.  The primary reason for this was new technology, steam-powered steel roller mills, which appeared around 1890.  Melissa Smith and Steven Gundry wrote about the unintended consequences of roller mills.
Previously, grain had been milled between stones, which ground together all parts of the wheat berry, resulting in whole wheat flour.  White flour had been made by bolting — sieving whole wheat flour through fine cloth.  This was a time-consuming process, so white flour was expensive.  White bread was a luxury that only the rich could afford.  The waste byproduct of the bolting process was the super-nutritious bran and germ, which was usually fed to livestock.
The new roller mills crushed the grain, rather than finely pulverizing it.  This made it much easier to separate the bran and germ from the powdered endosperm (white flour).  Because of this, white flour could now be cheaply mass produced.  Since people perceived white flour to be a desirable luxury food, they eagerly consumed it.
Gundry noted that the new process eliminated both the fiber-rich bran, and the germ, which was rich in oil and vitamins.  White flour was little more than highly refined carbs, which rapidly enter the bloodstream — empty calories.  White flour had a much longer shelf life than whole wheat, because it had no oil which would go rancid over time.  White flour could be shipped to the ends of the Earth, and stored indefinitely.
By the 1920s, folks realized that white flour was crap.  New regulations required that white flour be “enriched” with nutrients, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron.  Despite enrichment, white flour remains nutritionally inferior to whole wheat.
With regard to sugar, the steel roller mill was a big improvement.  It could extract up to 85 percent of the juice from the cane.  The previous technology could extract only 20 percent.  So, each ton of cane could produce much more sugar, which lowered the price, and enabled mass production.
Sugar became a major component of the working class diet.  By 1900, 20 percent of the calories in the English diet were provided by sugar.  Many factory workers started their day with a slice of white bread spread with sugar-packed jam, marmalade, or treacle — many calories, few nutrients.  According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the average annual consumption of caloric sweeteners per person in the U.S. peaked in 1999 at 151.6 pounds (68.7 kg).  In 2016, it was down to a mere 128.1 pounds (58 kg).
Sugar consumption nearly doubled in the U.S. between 1890 and the early 1920s — an era of rapid growth in the candy and soft drink industries.  In some U.S. cities, diabetes deaths quadrupled between 1900 and 1920.  By the 1930s, the cancer rates in the U.S. were clearly on the rise.  Diabetes and cancer are far less common in societies that do not eat a Western diet.
Smith discussed Dr. Thomas Cleave’s “Rule of 20 Years.”  The old doctor noted a spooky pattern.  In numerous locations, 20 years after the arrival of white flour and white sugar, primitive people started to suffer from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and colitis.
You are what you eat!
Price, Weston, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1939, Reprint, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, La Mesa, California, 2008.  LINK
Mintz, Sidney W., Sweetness and Power — The Place of Sugar in Modern History, Penguin Books, New York, 1985.
Gundry, Steven R., Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, Crown Publishers, New York, 2008.
Smith, Melissa Diane, Going Against the Grain, Contemporary Books, Chicago, 2002.
Weston Price Foundation — info on nutrition and health.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Last of the Nomads



Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Yatungka and her husband Warri, the last two Mandildjara people to live in the traditional way on the Western Gibson Desert of Australia.  William Peasley wrote their saga in The Last of the Nomads.

Aborigines have one of the oldest continuous cultures on Earth.  They have lived in Australia for at least 40,000 years, some say 60,000.  Nomads first inhabited the more fertile regions, leaving the deserts for later.  Folks have lived in the Gibson for maybe 20,000 years.  Most readers, if dropped off in the Gibson, naked, with a spear and boomerang, would be dead in a day or three.  Water is extremely scarce.  For the paleface colonizers, the desert is dangerous, miserable, a land of horrors.  For Aborigines, it was home sweet home, where they belonged, a sacred place.  They had an intimate understanding of the land, and learned how to live in balance with it.

Yatungka and Warri spent most of their adult lives as pariahs, because their relationship violated a tribal law that defined permitted and forbidden marriages.  Laws were taken very seriously.  If they returned to their people, they might be beaten, or even killed.  So, their family lived away from the tribe, wandering from waterhole to waterhole, hunting and foraging.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the government made efforts to move the Aborigines into settlements, where intense culture shock led many to lose their identity, become massively depressed alcoholics, and abandon their ancient traditions.  The sons and kinfolk who stayed with Yatungka and Warri eventually moved off to civilization, but the outlaw couple feared to join them.

Anyway, in 1977, it was the third year of an extreme drought, the worst in a century, maybe the worst in many centuries.  The kinfolk of the outlaw couple were worried about them.  Mudjon was a respected elder who had been raised on the desert in the traditional way.  He knew all the waterholes, and cared about Yatungka and Warri.  His dream was to take the Mandildjara people back to their desert paradise, return to the old ways, and preserve their traditions.  Few of the young were interested.

Mudjon asked a white friend to help him search for the couple, and he agreed.  Mudjon was joined by five white lads, including Peasley.  They loaded up three vehicles and took off across the vast roadless desert.  Mudjon knew that this was probably his last visit to the territory of his people, and the last time a traditional Aborigine would drink from each well, or leave footprints in the dirt.  Peasley noted, “It was very sad for him to move through the land where once his people hunted and laughed and sang around the campfires.”

The chapters describing the long search contain some fascinating passages about the old way of life.  Mudjon was a master at reading the land, noticing the countless slight details that provided strong and detailed messages to him, but were invisible to the whites.  Without a map for the 1,500 km (932 mi) journey, he guided the team from waterhole to waterhole, looking for signs of the couple.  It was a powerful experience for him, to see old campsites, windbreaks, caves, springs, rock paintings, and other artifacts — the remains of an ancient culture.

Eventually they found signs of the missing couple.  At several locations, Mudjon started a brushfire that sent smoke high into the sky, where it would have been visible from up to 160 km (99 mi) away.  Warri did not respond with a smoke signal.

It was an ancient custom of the desert people to routinely light brushfires as they journeyed from waterhole to waterhole.  This had three benefits.  (1) Fire flushed out hidden game.  (2) It signaled their progress to other groups.  (3) It regenerated the earth and stimulated plant growth.  Fresh green sprouts attracted game.  Wildlife became dependent on burning.  This was called firestick farming.  In recent decades, in regions no longer visited, the burning has ceased, the water holes are not kept cleared, and animal and bird life largely disappeared.

One happy day, they saw smoke from Warri, and drove to his campsite.  When Mudjon greeted him, there were no smiles, hugs, or handshakes.  Warri was about 150 cm (5 ft) tall, naked, extremely thin, and both eyes were inflamed.  He wasn’t strong enough to hunt, so they were living on quandongs (peach-like fruit).  Yatungka returned from foraging with several dingo dogs.  She displayed no signs of excitement.  She was about 165 cm (5’ 5”) tall, younger, naked, very thin, but in much better physical condition.

They would not survive much longer at the waterhole.  The rescue party knew that the nearest well that still had some water was 150 km (93 mi) away, an impossible journey on foot.  The couple agreed to return to the Wiluna settlement with Mudjon and company.  They wanted to see their sons again.  Mudjon assured them that there would be no drama about the taboo violated long ago.

In Wiluna, many folks came to look at the long-missing couple, and were stunned to see their emaciated condition.  “There were no greetings, no shouts of joy, in fact there was no sign of recognition on either side, and yet the sons of Warri and Yatungka were within a few meters of their parents.”  Tears streamed down the cheeks of Warri and many others.  A few months later, Mudjon got very sick, declined, and died.  A year after their return, Warri and Yatungka caught a disease.  He died in April 1979, and she died a few weeks later.

For me, this was a powerful book, not primarily for what it said, but for the silent message unperceived by the white heroes who came to the rescue.  Peasley spent his boyhood on a farm in Australia, and he sometimes discovered signs of prehistoric campsites.  He felt sad that, after more than 40,000 years on the land, the people had not been able to leave behind anything more significant than simple campsites, grinding stones, rock paintings, and so on.

For me, this low impact living was an amazing achievement.  They successfully adapted to a hot dry ecosystem, and it was a wonderful home for them.  What a terrible problem!  The Gibson Desert that the rescue party drove across looked nearly the same as it did 1,000 years ago, or 10,000.  The silent message screams “genuine sustainability, beautiful, healthy culture!”

Humans are also capable of adapting to godforsaken nightmares like Chicago, jammed together with millions of isolated, anxious, stressed out, depressed strangers… ah, the wonders of progress!  The rescue party was proud of their advanced technology, which gave them the ability to dominate, exploit, and rubbish the continent.  What significant artifacts will they leave behind to impress the youngsters of generations yet to be born?  Will the land be in no worse condition in another 1,000 or 10,000 years?  These questions are taboo, heresy in a culture whose god-word is Growth.

Peasley did confess to having some uncomfortable thoughts.  When the rescue party knew that the couple was alive and nearby, he realized, “We were about to intrude into the lives of the last nomadic people in the Western Gibson Desert, and in doing so, it was possible that we might be responsible for bringing to an end a way of life that had gone on for several thousand years.”

Peasley, William John, The Last of the Nomads, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, Australia, 1983.

The Last Nomads is a 45 minute Australian documentary of this story.

The Future Eaters provides an environmental history of wild Australia, the early human impacts, the mass extinctions, and the lessons painfully learned.

The Life and Adventures of William Buckley tells the story of an Englishman who abandoned civilization and spent 32 years as a hunter-gatherer in the early days of Australian colonization.

The Life and Adventures of William Buckley



William Buckley was born in Cheshire, England in 1780.  He was trained to be a bricklayer, but the monotonous work bored him.  He joined the militia and was a soldier for four years.  Then, he met some scruffy lads, and got busted for receiving stolen property.  In 1803, he was rewarded for his mischief with a one-way nine-month pleasure cruise to a luxurious resort for white trash in Middle of Nowhere, Australia.  He never saw his family again.

It was not a high security penal colony, because fleeing into the vast wilderness was essentially suicide.  In just three months the prison routine got unbearably boring, and Buckley joined three other lads in a great escape.  One was shot by a guard, and the two others soon lost their courage and gave up.  Buckley was a stubborn cuss, not an obedient bootlicker.  He refused to surrender, bid farewell to his cowardly mates, and abandoned the British Empire.  Good luck Willy!

A mile or two later, in an incredible act, he passed through a time warp, and entered a vast Stone Age wilderness inhabited by cannibals, venomous snakes, and vicious packs of dingo dogs.  He was free as can be, suddenly a clueless unarmed hunter-gatherer in a reality quite similar to 40,000 B.C.  For the next 32 years, he never saw a civilized person, forgot his mother tongue, ceased knowing what year it was, and continuously worked to improve his survival skills.  Fresh air, sunshine, and absolute freedom.  Imagine that!  His escape inspires pleasant fantasies for daydreaming corporate inmates trapped in cubicle farm workstations.

In the next several months, Buckley ate shellfish and occasionally observed a few passing natives.  One day he stumbled upon a grave with a spear sticking out of it — Lucky Willy’s salvation.  He took the spear, and used it for a walking stick.  Later, while having a pleasant nap, he was spotted by two native women, who returned to their camp with wondrous news of a white man.  Everyone came to see him, and he was given the name Murrangurk, the name of the corpse in the grave, previous owner of the spear.  They believe that after death, souls return as white men.  They were very happy to find him, and Willy now had relatives who held him in great awe.

Over time, he mastered their language.  He learned a great deal about hunting, fishing, and foraging.  He now dined on organic swans, emus, shellfish, shrimp, opossums, squirrels, large ants, roots, wombats, kangaroos, black snakes, grubs, lizards, toads, rats, and mice.  Yum!  Technology included long spears, short spears, spear throwers, boomerangs, tomahawks, shrimp nets, and fire-making sticks.  Their portable mansions were bark tents.  They weren’t too interested in clothing, fashionable folks wore a few strips of hide.

His saga often mentions seeing gatherings of 100, 200, and 300 natives, which surprised me.  My minimal knowledge of Aborigines, based on twentieth century commentaries, led me to believe that they lived in small groups in a harsh land where food was scarce.  Buckley indicated that they were intimately attuned to the cycles of the seasons, knowing when and where abundant food was likely to be found, for a temporary span of time.  They lived a wandering life, trying to move from one food banquet to the next, improvising along the way.

Buckley arrived in Australia in 1803, just one year after the first non-Australian arrived in the wilderness.  Willy spent 32 years with the Wathaurong Aborigines in the Port Phillip and Geelong districts (near Melbourne), and then made contact with sailors in 1835.  In about 1849, as he neared the end of his life, he told his story to impoverished journalist John Morgan.  Buckley could not read or write.  The saga he told was based entirely on memory, long after the events occurred.  He especially remembered the events that had made the deepest impressions on him — conflict and bloodshed.

Throughout the short book, he describes numerous violent events.  Many folks were speared to death, and many of their corpses were eaten.  Very often, women were the cause of bloody disputes.  These conflicts were commonly resolved by spearing the woman, or the man who was with her, who was not her husband.  Whenever someone was speared, the family of the victim was obliged to seek revenge, immediately, or at a convenient opportunity in the future.  If the chief offender was not available, a member of his family would do.  Sometimes two tribes clashed in large rumbles, and several died in the process.

Buckley reported that all deaths were believed to be the result of human agency, never natural causes.  For example, when a man from an enemy tribe died from a snakebite, Buckley’s tribal brother-in-law was suspected of sorcery or something.  The enemies attacked and speared the family that had kindly adopted him.  Buckley became an orphan in a dangerous world, and he cried and cried for hours.

He felt safe and relaxed when living alone by a river or shore, but dangerous people could suddenly appear at any hour.  Any day he could become the main course at dinner.  One white man who met him later in life said he was of “a nervous and irritable disposition, and a little thing will annoy him much.”  Another noted that he “was always discontented and dissatisfied.”

His wild days ended when he met some sailors on the shore.  They were utterly surprised to see a dirty, nearly naked, six foot five inch (2 m) white man with long flowing hair, and a spear.  It took him some time to remember English.  He was greatly relieved to return to civilized society.  He worked as an interpreter for colonists.  Their mission was to meet native chiefs, and buy their land for a pile of trinkets.  The natives had no chiefs, and no concept of owning land or selling it, but they did have a fondness for blankets, knives, and stuff.  They did not understand what these transactions actually meant.

Buckley the bricklayer built the chimney for the first brick house in a primitive frontier settlement now known as Melbourne.  Before long, a steady stream of ships was unloading settlers.  Pissed off natives found exciting new opportunities in sheep rustling, looting, and spearing terrorists.  There were many conflicts, and the well-armed terrorists eventually conquered the Aborigines, and profitably began mining the soil, grassland, forests, and wildlife.  Buckley married the widow of a friend who had been speared.  Soon after, he got typhus.  In 1856, he died of injuries received from being run over by an ox cart in Hobart.  The end.

This is a short book, and Morgan was not a master wordsmith.  The book is a unique snapshot of a time, a place, and a life — a reminder of the era of low impact living.  It’s an effective antidote for those who suffer from the illusion that wild tribes of hunter-gatherers universally enjoyed idyllic lives of love, peace, and happiness.  It’s also sad. 

Today, two centuries later, the wild ecosystem of 1803 has been severely and permanently damaged.  This is not a path with a long future.  The Aboriginal path very closely resembled genuine sustainability.  All paths include some conflict and bloodshed, some coherence and happiness.  We live in interesting times.

Morgan, John, The Life and Adventures of William Buckley, 1852, Reprint, William Heinemann Ltd, Melbourne, 1967.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Against the Grain



James C. Scott teaches political science and anthropology at Yale.  He’s a smooth writer and a deep thinker.  A while back, he decided to update two lectures on agrarian societies that he had been giving for 20 years.  He began studying recent research and — gasp! — realized that significant portions of traditional textbook history had the strong odor of moldy cultural myths.  So, a quick update project turned into five years, and resulted in a manuscript that I found to be remarkably stimulating, from cover to cover —  Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States.

While the human saga is several million years old, and Homo sapiens appeared on the stage maybe 200,000 years ago, the origin myth I was taught began just 10,000 years ago, with domestication and civilization.  We were transformed from hungry, dirty, dolts into brilliant philosophers, scientists, and artists, who lived indoors, wore cool clothes, and owned lots of slaves.

As a curious animal interested in ecological sustainability, I’m amazed that every other animal species has, for millions of years, lived on this planet without destabilizing the climate, spurring mass extinctions, poisoning everything, and generally beating the <bleep> out of the planet.  These are the unintended consequences of our reckless joyride in a hotrod of turbocharged progress.  They define the primary aspects of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, the era when tropical primates with huge throbbing brains left permanent scars on the planet.

Experts argue about when the Anthropocene began.  Did it start with the sorcery of nuclear fission, or the curse of fossil-powered industry?  Many point to the domestication of plants and animals, and the birth of civilization.  Scott is among the few who say it began with the domestication of fire, which occurred at least 400,000 years ago, sparked by our Homo erectus ancestors.  Every other species continues to survive via the original power source, the sun’s wildfire.  Plants grow green solar panels that produce the nutrients that keep the fauna alive and happy, a perfectly brilliant design.

Imagine waving a magic wand, and eliminating everything in the world made possible by domesticated fire — no metal, no concrete, no plastic, no glowing screens.  Would humans still be around?  Fire historian Stephen Pyne concluded, “Without fire humanity sinks to a status of near helplessness.”  We wouldn’t be able to survive outside the tropics.  The plant and animal species that enabled civilization lived north of the tropics (see THIS).  Without domesticated fire, we’d still be wild and free — and far less crowded.

Scott focused on southern Mesopotamia, because it was the birthplace of the earliest genuine states.  What are states?  They are hierarchical societies, with rulers and tax collectors, rooted in a mix of farming and herding.  The primary food of almost every early state was wheat, barley, or rice.  Taxes were paid with grain, which was easier to harvest, transport, and store than yams or breadfruit.  States often had armies, defensive walls, palaces or ritual centers, slaves, and maybe a king or queen.

The moldy myths imply that domesticated plants and animals, sedentary communities, and fixed-field agriculture emerged in a close sequence.  Wrong!  There is scattered evidence of sedentary hunter-gatherers by 12,000 B.C.  Domestication began around 9000 B.C.  It took at least four thousand years (160 generations!) before agricultural villages appeared, and then another two thousand years before the first states emerged, around 3100 B.C.

Moldy myths assume that the Fertile Crescent has been a desert since humans first arrived.  Wrong!  Southern Mesopotamia used to be wetlands, a cornucopia of wild foods, a paradise for hunters and gatherers.  There was so much to eat that it was possible to quit wandering and live in settled communities.  “Edible plants included club rush, cattails, water lily, and bulrush.  They ate tortoises, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, birds, waterfowl, small mammals, and migrating gazelles.”  In a land of abundance, it would have been absolutely stupid to pursue the backbreaking drudgery of agriculture.

Moldy myths often give us the “backs-to-the-wall” explanation for the shift to agriculture, which was far more work.  Simply, we had run out of new alternatives for feeding a growing mob, while hunting was producing less meat, and wild plants were producing less food.  We had no choice!  But in the Middle East, there appears to be no firm evidence associating early cultivation with the decline of either game animals or forage. 

Cultivation seems to have emerged in regions of abundance, not scarcity.  Every year, floods deposited silt along the riverbanks, moist fertile soil ready for sowing.  So, flood-retreat farming would have required far less toil than tilling fields, while producing useful nutrients.  More nutrients enabled further population growth, which eventually pressed the shift to miserable labor-intensive irrigated agriculture.

The root of “domestication” is “domus” (the household).  In early Mesopotamia, “the domus was a unique and unprecedented concentration of tilled fields, seed and grain stores, people, and domestic animals, all coevolving with consequences no one could have possibly foreseen.”  As a result of living on the domus, animals (including humans) were changed, both physically and behaviorally.  In this process, wild species became domesticated.  Over time, some species became “fully domesticated” — genetically altered, entirely dependent on humans for their survival.  Domestication was also about deliberate control over reproduction, which “applied not only to fire, plants, and animals but also to slaves, state subjects, and women in the patriarchal family.”

Domesticated sheep have brains 24 percent smaller than their wild ancestors.  Pig brains are a third smaller.  Protected from predators, regularly fed, with restricted freedom of movement, they became less alert, less anxious, less aggressive — pudgy passive dimwit meatballs.  They reached reproductive age sooner, and produced far more offspring.

“The multispecies resettlement camp was, then, not only a historic assemblage of mammals in numbers and proximity never previously known, but it was also an assembly of all the bacteria, protozoa, helminthes, and viruses that fed on them.”  The domus was a magnet for uninvited guests: fleas, ticks, leeches, mosquitoes, lice, and mites.  Unnatural crowds of animals spent their lives walking around in poop, and drinking dirty water.  It was a devilishly brilliant incubator for infectious diseases.  Humans share a large number of diseases with other domus animals, including poultry (26), rats and mice (32), horses (35), pigs (42), sheep and goats (46), cattle (50), and dogs (65).

Other writers have noted that, prior to contact, Native Americans had no epidemic diseases.  With very few domesticated animals, they lacked state of the art disease incubators.  Scott goes one step further, asserting that prior to the domus, there was little or no epidemic disease in the Old World.  “The importance of sedentism and the crowding it allowed can hardly be overestimated. It means that virtually all the infectious diseases due to microorganisms specifically adapted to Homo sapiens came into existence only in the past ten thousand years, many of them perhaps only in the past five thousand.”  Thus, the humans that first crossed from Siberia to North America 13,000 years ago were free of disease because little or no infectious disease existed anywhere in the world!

Dense monocultures of plants also begged for trouble.  “Crops not only are threatened, as are humans, with bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases, but they face a host of predators large and small — snails, slugs, insects, birds, rodents, and other mammals, as well as a large variety of evolving weeds that compete with the cultivar for nutrition, water, light, and space.”  Once harvested and stored in the granary, grain could be lost to weevils, rodents, and fungi.  The biggest vulnerability of states was that they were almost entirely dependent on a single annual harvest of one or two staple grains.  Crops could be wiped out by drought, flood, pests, storm damage, or crop diseases.

Mesopotamian life was largely human powered.  Workers grew the grain that the tax man hauled away to the plump elites.  More workers meant more wealth and power for the big shots.  In screw-brained hierarchical cultures (including ours), it’s impossible to have too much wealth.  Therefore, peasants and slaves were husbanded like livestock.  The diabolical “more is better” disease was devastating.  Some believe that monumental walls were built as much for defense as to prevent taxpayers and slaves from escaping to freedom.

Early states were vulnerable in many ways, and they frequently collapsed.  Collapse sounds like a tragedy.  But it could simply mean breaking up into smaller components.  Larger was not necessarily better.  A drought might cause a state’s population to disperse.  For the non-elites, life in a Mesopotamian state could be oppressive and miserable.  Sometimes, collapse was a cause for celebration.  Yippee!

Anyway, the book is fascinating.  Readers also learn about the tax game, the vital slave industry, trade networks, deforestation, erosion, soil salinization, irrigation, looting and raiding, mass escapes of workers, the challenges and benefits of being surrounded by large numbers of aggressive nomadic herders, and on and on.  It’s an outstanding book!

WARNING:  The expensive Kindle edition contains numerous charts, maps, and diagrams.  When downloaded to the Kindle for PC application (v 1.20.1), most are unreadably small, even on a 24” monitor.  Clever nerds can tediously capture the images to another application, expand them, and read them.  Strong reading glasses (3.75 lens or higher) also work with a big monitor.

Scott, James C., Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017. 

Four Domestications is a free PDF download, the 48-page text of a lecture Scott gave at Harvard.  It includes some of the foundation ideas for his new book.

Seeing Like a State is a free PDF download of Scott’s 1998 book, a companion for his new book.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Surviving the 21st Century



In the old Three Stooges comedies, whenever Curly did something dumb, angry Moe gave him a dope slap (SMACK!).  With regard to humankind’s war on the future, a number of thinkers have been inspired to write passionate dope slap books, including Man and Nature (1864), Conservation of Natural Resources (1910), Checking the Waste (1911), Our Vanishing Wild Life (1913).  Dope slap books are a two-step: (1) describe the terrible growing harms, and (2) provide a motivating pep talk loaded with rational solutions — based on the assumption that the society is rational.

In the last 30 years, a tsunami of dope slap books have flooded the market.  The latest comes from Australian science writer Julian Cribb, Surviving the 21st Century.  He does a great job of providing a competent and sobering introduction to ecological reality in 2017 — vital knowledge that every 16-year old (and their teachers) should know (but don’t).  He’s good at explaining complex challenges in an understandable way.

The book has ten chapters, each discussing a category of serious risks.  (1) Dangerous overconfidence in human brilliance.  (2) Mass extinctions.  (3) Degrading the planet.  (4) Industrial warfare.  (5) Climate change.  (6) Pollution.  (7) Feeding an overgrown herd.  (8) Urban growth and disease.  (9) Moronic beliefs that trump scientific facts.  (10) It’s time for action — think like a species.

Humankind’s current mass hysteria has an oxymoronic name, Sustainable Growth™, and its destination is oblivion.  We are going to be slamming head-on, at high speed, into crucial limits — a magnificently irrational course of action.  Cribb prefers a mindful Plan B, a gradual, managed, and cooperative path to a slower, simpler, far less crowded future.

All humans have a hardcore addiction to food.  In his 2010 book, The Coming Famine (reviewed HERE), Cribb described the enormous degradation caused by feeding an ever growing population, and presented readers with many rational suggestions.  In the following seven years, the naughty world largely disregarded his recommendations.

In this new book, Cribb dreams of miraculously doubling food production, and feeding the growing mob until we hit Peak People, at ten or twelve billion, in 2060.  All nations will heroically cooperate in rapidly making many rational (and extremely radical) changes, we’ll avoid total catastrophe, and proceed with a bumpy but tolerable decline to a sustainable population of somewhere between two and four billion by 2100.  That’s a big dream.

Is it really possible to feed ten billion?  Readers learn that there are no new plant breeding miracles on the horizon.  In the 1960s, the Green Revolution research had noble intentions — temporarily boost food production, so humankind would have an extra ten years to resolve its embarrassing orgy of overbreeding.  It was a beautiful dream.  Food production actually doubled.  Unfortunately, the population problem was swept under the bed, and the human herd more than doubled, intensifying the original problem.

Hopium addicts have no doubt that the wizards of science will save the day.  GMO plants have been a stunning success at boosting the sales of toxic agrochemicals, but they have had minimal impact on harvest volumes.  The current rate at which we are depleting underground aquifers, and other freshwater resources, is going to crash into limits before 2030.  Destruction of the planet’s remaining topsoil continues at an impressive rate.  Food production trends are not encouraging.

“Outside of a nuclear war or asteroid collision, the biggest shock in store for the human population in the 21st Century will be the impact of climate change on the food supply.”  Luckily, readers discover a plan for doubling food production by solving big problems.  We’ll create a new form of agriculture that can survive in an unstable climate, produce lots of excellent food, and do so sustainably — without using a spoonful of fossil fuel!  We’ll make sustainable oil from algae.

The required inputs for algae farms are sunshine, salt water, and urban wastes.  “Algal oil… can be made into anything you can make from fossil petroleum — ‘green’ fuel, plastics, textiles, chemicals, drugs, food additives.  Furthermore, researchers have calculated, algae could supply the world’s entire transport fuel requirement from an area of 57 million hectares — which is a bit smaller than Switzerland — and can mostly be in the ocean in any case.”

Belief is the subject of the fascinating chapter nine, and something I’ve thought a lot about.  Belief may very well be the biggest threat to the survival of our species, worse than all the other threats combined.  Even the most ridiculous, insanely stupid, self-destructive beliefs can be highly contagious, readily passing from one generation to the next, fully resistant to reason, common sense, or factual reality.  Belief trumps reason.

Belief insists that human-caused climate change is impossible.  Humans do not share common ancestors with chimps and baboons.  Technology can solve any problem.  Perpetual growth is possible on a finite planet.  Good consumers must gain respect and honor by devoting their lives to working hard (at soul killing jobs), recklessly borrowing, impulsively spending, proudly hoarding trendy status trinkets, and promptly discarding trinkets the moment they cease being trendy.

Cribb believes that foresight is our ultimate skill, enabling us to perceive potential dangers, avoid them, and survive.  Wild humans, intimately attuned to the complex patterns of their ecosystem, excelled at foresight.  We don’t.  We are cursed to inhabit an industrial culture that mutates at a furious rate.  New technologies are often obsolete in five or ten years.  We can never become intimately attuned to something similar to a high-speed runaway train.

We’re trapped in a cycle of repeated mistakes, perpetually erecting new empires, watching them self-destruct, and never learning.  We’ve installed at least 440 nuclear power plants before we’ve built a single facility for safely storing the radioactive wastes that can remain highly toxic for a million years.  Nobody had the foresight to predict the staggering consequences of the Ford Model T, or the microchip, or metal smelting.  Hey, let’s colonize other planets!

Crusty old farts like myself, who have been reading dope slap books for 30 years, and observing how little they inspire society, no longer shout and cheer when the latest vision rolls by.  Cribb does an excellent job describing the challenges.  His grand vision requires humankind to undergo an amazing transformation, from the pathetic dullard Homo delusus (self-deceiving human) into the new, wise, and beautiful Homo sapiens (wise human).

Cribb has no doubt that “solutions to all of these challenges exist or can be developed.”  Today, essential information can be instantly shared with people everywhere in the world.  Scientific knowledge grows exponentially every decade.  Intelligent change is entirely possible!  Around the world, young women are having fewer children — voluntarily!  We are not obligated to commit mass suicide.

Understand that this is a textbook for college students.  Universities are monasteries that instruct the next generation in the management of Sustainable Growth™.  They require textbooks that reinforce the loony beliefs of the hopeless Homo delusus.  Cribb makes a heroic effort to tap-dance across a ballroom where the entire floor is covered with greased marbles.  It’s obvious that he is acutely aware of the growing challenges of reality (which are heretical nonsense at the monastery).  He knows that the young novices are likely to learn little or nothing about these challenges — unless he cleverly sneaks them into a gospel that appears to be orthodox.

Today’s novices are 100 times smarter than slobbering geezers over 30.  They are acutely aware that they have inherited a catastrophe.  They don’t need a dope slap.  They know that transforming all of nature into toxic landfill dreck is insane.  Hopefully, Cribb’s book will help the novices bombard the abbots with high-powered questions, and encourage our species to shift toward becoming Homo sapiens.  Good luck!

Cribb, Julian, Surviving the 21st Century: Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2017.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Safety Nets



Today, a few billion humans live in affluence.  Their unsustainable societies have social safety nets made possible by nonrenewable energy.  When they are disrupted by hurricanes, earthquakes, or famine, food relief is usually shipped in from other regions, preventing mass starvation.  For most of the human saga, each clan or community was on its own, far less likely to be rescued by outsiders.

The San people have the oldest DNA of any living culture.  Their DNA is the genetic foundation of nearly all modern humans.  Until recent decades, they had a sustainable safety net, but herders, farmers, and others have pushed them off most of their traditional territory.  The San now inhabit the Kalahari Desert.  On average, two of every five years are drought years, and severe droughts occur one in every four years. 

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has spent a lot of time with the San.  She wrote her first book about them in 1958, and her third book in 2006.  Like any intelligent culture, their safety net included careful family planning, to avoid the suffering caused by overpopulation, and its trusty companions: environmental degradation, hunger, and conflict.

Because of low body fat and hard work, San women began menstruating later.  Some did not have monthly periods.  Children were usually nursed for about four years, which further reduced mom’s fertility.  Most of the women had one to four offspring.  Nomads moved frequently, and belongings and infants had to be hauled long distances.  A woman could only carry one infant, so just one twin was kept.

When a child could not be kept, the woman gave birth alone, away from the camp, and buried the newborn before it drew breath.  In their culture, a newborn did not immediately become alive, so disposing it was OK.  Crippled or badly deformed infants were not kept, because they would be a drain on the wellbeing of the band.  To avoid unwanted pregnancies in harsh times, it was common for folks to abstain from intercourse. 

Richard Lee wrote about the San.  Their primary food was mongongo nuts, which dropped once a year, but could be gathered all year long.  Their secondary food was meat.  The Kalahari provided them with about 100 edible plant species, which they were careful not to overuse.  The San expected periodic times of scarcity, so they reserved some plant species for drought food.  Portions of their territory were set aside for lean times.

John Reader wrote about an extreme drought in Botswana that lasted three years, resulting in the deaths of 250,000 cattle and 180,000 people.  The San didn’t starve.  Each week they spent 12 to 19 hours foraging for their sustenance.  They knew how to live.

The outlook for our highly unsustainable society is daunting.  It depends on a stable climate, and ever-diminishing energy resources.  Our safety net is something like a time bomb — tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…

The San thrived by carefully adapting to their wild ecosystem.  Consumers thrive by eliminating wild ecosystems and replacing them with forest mines, soil mines, mineral mines, permanent settlements, and complex industrial systems.  Our way of life cannot survive a three year disconnect from fossil energy, or three years of abnormal weather.

In the far north, the Eskimos also had safety nets.  The super-frigid arctic was an immensely challenging habitat for hairless tropical primates.  Beyond seasonal eggs and berries, little foraging was possible.  Meat was the primary food, and hunting was never reliable.

Storing meat or eggs in a treeless land inhabited by hungry polar bears and wolves was not easy.  Their food preservation methods would gag suburban consumers.  In Greenland, Knud Rasmussen got salmonella after eating kivioq, a yummy delicacy made from dead auks sewn inside a seal gut and left to rot for two months.  This was before antibiotics.  He died.  

Life was hard.  Knud told the story of a man named Qumangâpik, who had four wives and 15 children.  The first wife froze to death, the second was buried by an avalanche, the third died of illness, and the fourth froze to death.  Of his 15 children, one starved, four were frozen, and five died of illness.  Qumangâpik froze to death, along with his wife and two little children.

Knud’s buddy, Peter Freuchen, went to Greenland in 1906, built a trading post, married a native woman, and wrote about wild Eskimos — before their traditional lifestyle had been destabilized by disease, guns, booze, bureaucrats, and missionaries.  In the 1920s, during a severe storm, his sled dogs refused to continue.  So he crawled under the sled and took a nap.  When he awoke, his left leg was frozen solid.  It thawed, rotted, and had to be amputated.

In the arctic, safety nets had to rely far more on population management.  Survival depended on the lads who brought the meat home.  Without hunters, everyone starved.  Second in importance was their wives, who could bear more children once the lean times had passed.  Least important were the elderly and children, especially female youngsters, who would not grow up to be hunters.  There were times when starving mothers strangled and ate their own children.

When hunting was bad, suicide was common.  Elders would take one-way walks into the frigid night.  Old women sometimes asked a son or daughter to stab them in the heart with a dagger.  Old men sometimes asked a son to hang them.  At the conclusion of a joyful farewell party, father and son would rub noses, and then dad would be hoisted up, to begin his journey to the other side, where game was always abundant. 

“There is absolutely no cruelty connected with this,” Freuchen emphasized.  “Fear of death is unknown among them, they know only love of life… they believe themselves to be the happiest people on earth living in the most beautiful country there is.”  There was no shame in eating the dead, or killing and eating children and dogs.  Survival required it.  It was OK.

Vilhelm Moberg described family planning in heathen Sweden.  When a child was born, the father decided its fate.  If he allowed it to live, it was sprinkled with water and given a name.  Sickly and deformed infants were exposed (abandoned outdoors).  In times of famine, even healthy newborns were exposed, especially girls.  The old and infirm were dispatched by pushing them off the ancestral cliff (ättestup) or by clobbering them with the ancestral club (ätteklubbor).

Anyway, contact with civilization has now succeeded in eliminating most sustainable cultures.  Infectious diseases have hammered wild people everywhere.  Outsiders introduced the San to dogs and horses, which made overhunting far easier.  They now live in permanent villages where alcoholism, individualism, and violence are common.  Their traditional way of life is essentially over.

Initially, Freuchen and Rasmussen were proud of their efforts to help the Eskimos enjoy the wonders of modernity.  Guns made it far easier to hunt (and overhunt).  Guns made so much noise that they scared caribou away — they abandoned their normal migration routes, and entire communities starved.  Loud gunfire scared seals away.  Seals shot with guns often sank, and were lost.  By 1908, Rasmussen had profound regrets.  The Eskimos appeared to be on the path to extinction.

Gretel Ehrlich visited Greenland several times between 1993 and 1999.  Unlike the Kalahari, Greenland had valuable resources to attract greed freaks — cod, seals, walrus, birds, minerals, and so on.  Natives became addicted to the money economy, and now enjoy year round access to edible food-like substances imported from elsewhere, fueling population growth.  By killing extra fish and wildlife, they earn the money needed for TVs, electricity, telephones, cigarettes, booze, snowmobiles, motorboats, guns, ammo…  Many were hunting and fishing as if they were the last generation.

Please note that the sustainable wild cultures mentioned above would perceive our obsession with perpetual growth, our insatiable hunger for status trinkets, and our weirdness about abortion to be absolutely insane.  An Eskimo gent once told a white foreigner, “Alas, you are a child in your thoughts.”  Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…

Image: “Greenland Storyteller,” from Rasmussen’s book.

Ehrlich, Gretel, This Cold Heaven — Seven Seasons in Greenland, Pantheon Books, New York, 2001.

Freuchen, Peter, Book of the Eskimos, World Publishing Company, Cleveland, 1961.

Freuchen, Peter, Arctic Adventure — My Life in the Frozen North, 1935, Reprint. The Lyons Press, Guilford, Connecticut, 2002.

Lee, Richard B., The Dobe !Kung, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1984.

Moberg, Vilhelm, A History of the Swedish People, Pantheon Books, New York, 1970.

Rasmussen, Knud, The People of the Polar North, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London, 1908.

Reader, John, Man on Earth, Perennial Library, New York, 1990.

Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall, The Harmless People, Vintage Books, New York, 1989.  Second edition. 

Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall, The Old Way — A Story of the First People, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2006.

Extra credit homework: