In this effective edited collection of documents, Robert McPherson and Susan Rhodes Neel take the reader on an exciting and often perilous journey through the Four Corners region by reconstructing the narrative of the Hayden geographic survey. Thoughtfully curated diaries, newspapers, scientific field notes, and published accounts offer the reader a look into the interworking and politics of the survey. According to the authors, the documents enable a contemporary reader to be “witness to the changing world” surrounding the Hayden Survey. Moreover, they suggest that the documents as assembled give the reader a telling insight into the process of incorporating an indigenous space into “an Anglo-American system of thought and utility” (p. 256) as the act of surveying translated the landscape into Western scientific understandings of “nature, space, and time” (p. 256). McPherson and Rhodes Neel organize the book chronologically rather than on the date of each source’s publication. Documents produced both during and after the expedition are weaved together with secondary material used to bridge the gaps. They begin with Gannett and Gardner divisions from Denver to the Los Pinos Indian Agency and offer insight into the surveyors’ reimagining of their role in the wilderness within the context of a dynamic landscape. In the second chapter, McPherson and Rhodes Neel trace the paths of the Homes, Aldrich, and Jackson divisions with emphasis on the difficulties of nineteenth-century photography in the field and Aldrich’s interactions with the Hispanic residents of New Mexico and Colorado. Chapters 3 through 5 provide a window into the daily lives of the surveyors as well as their experiences with Ancestral Puebloan ruins of the region. Through it all, the authors range from amusing tales of getting lost and chasing bears with pistols to Jackson’s interactions with various Indian cultures of the region including Jackson’s fondness for the Hopi. Chapters 6 and 7 cover the Gannett and Gardner divisions’ violent clash with a band of Utes and the resulting efforts to remove the survey members from the field. Although the survey presented the attack as an act of random aggression, the Utes understood what the act of American agents surveying their homeland meant because they had already lost substantial territory. The final chapter analyzes the continuing work of the survey after returning to the East. Most interesting was Hayden’s attempt to balance the coverage of the survey between adventure and science as military and private surveyors fought against one another for funding and professional respect. The authors conclude quickly, placing the contributions of the survey and actions of the Utes in context and end with a short postscript on the efforts to find the site of the skirmish in the 1960s. Because much of the narrative focuses on the relationship between the United States and the Utes, with the survey’s clash with the Utes the climax of the narrative, it would have been helpful if more indigenous sources were worked into the narrative or presented as a counterargument in the authors’ analysis. Nevertheless, the authors have organized the primary sources to craft an exciting and easily approachable narrative of the expedition. The documents of the Jackson photographic division will be of particular interest to those studying the role of visual imagery in shaping perceptions of the western environment. This work will be of interest to both scholarly and public audiences, particularly those interested on the changing relationships between place, space, and science. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Environmental History – Oxford University Press
Published: May 15, 2018
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