Thursday, May 21, 2020

One Thiing is Connected to Another And Another

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Humans are very good at changing Earth biologically and physically. Many of these changes result in changes to societies and cultures, animals and plants. Some small and others large. Much of what humans do has occurred without thinking of possible consequences or knowing enough at the time or, too often, deferring the change to the future. Not caring plays a large role, too. An example follows of a consequential change although it is not to be judged by what we know today. At the time it seemed like the thing to do.

I finished The Texas Indians by David Levere a few weeks ago. It was a gargantuan self-assignment. Since he is a historian and had to cross several borders to write this book, it is likely that anthropologists and archeologists will find flaws and raise questions about interpretations and the use of evidence. The book, I think, is for general readers like me. What I like is the Indians are center stage throughout. Levere is now retired.

At the dawning of the 16th century--I suppose one could name a date as Levere does: November 6, 1528, the day on which Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and most of the ship's crew came ashore on the southern coast of Texas. They were starving, their clothing ripped and torn. deVaca and a few others survived thanks to the Indians but Indian life in what is now Texas changed forever. At first gradually and then rapidly.

One of the changes following was the introduction of cattle by the Spanish. Never fenced, they roamed, becoming feral cattle. As they made their way north, "ate mesquite, and in their wake left droppings filled with mesquite beans, which sprouted, took root, and thrived."

The mesquite edged ever north, "essentially turning grasslands into scrub brush, it formed a southern border limiting the range of buffalos. By the early 1700s the buffalo had disappeared south of the San Antonio River making it harder and harder for the people of South and Southwesern Texas to depend on this food source." (quotes from pp. 71 and 72).

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