chapter  5
22 Pages

A ‘Necessary Sacrifice:’ Industrialization and American Indian Lands

WithJohn Byrne, Steven M. Hoffman

The understanding of society as autonomous from nature is a distinctive idea of industrialization. The historical requirements of industrialization have institutionalized a development structure in which the physical environment is valued either for its raw materials or for its ability to absorb industrial wastes. In North America, the industrialization of the continent involved not only the spread of mechanical modes of production, but also a cultural assault on the naturesociety relations that had organized American Indian communities for centuries prior to European invasion. The establishment of territorial colonialism over American Indian communities occurred in this earliest stage, as industrial mining—not only of minerals, but timber, soils, and water—propelled the European takeover of the continent. The environmental degradation of American Indian lands and the harms imposed upon Indian people over the last 200 years are best understood as an integral part of the history and politics of US industrial progress.