Eco Libris’ Green Books Campaign–Finding Chief Kamiakin

Today is the day! 200 bloggers are simultaneously posting reviews of books that are produced on environmentally friendly paper. Eco Libris in partnership with Indigo Books and Music is running the Green Books Campaign to raise consumer awareness about considering the environment when purchasing your books. I really like what they have to say on their vision page: “We don’t believe in preaching doom and gloom. It’s not our style. We do believe in taking action and in the power of small changes to make a big impact.”

Personally, I had never thought about books being printed on environmentally friendly paper until this event. I feel a little ashamed of that since I do like to buy paper products that are recycled when I can. I really like that this campaign has made me more aware of the processes in which books are made and now that I’ve been sent a book to review (and seen another called The Texas Legacy Project) I know what to look for when I purchase books.

I received the book Finding Chief Kamiakin by Richard D. Scheuerman and Michael O. Finley to review. On the inside of the book where all the copyright and publishing information is, this small line was included:

The Texas Legacy Project had an emblem on the inside of the book indicating that it was produced by environmentally friendly methods (Jenn from Picky Girl is reviewing that book so head over to her blog if you are interested in reading about it). If you are interested in this campaign, but you haven’t signed up to participate, here is a link to Eco-Libris’ blog on things you can do to promote the campaign. If any of the books interest you (and there are MANY good ones), take a trip to your local bookstore or order it online! The more demand for green books the more publishers will supply them!

I thank Eco Libris and Indigo Books and Music for allowing me to be a part of the Green Books Campaign and hope to participate next year as well. I think they are doing a very good thing promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly paper in books.

Click here to see other reviews from Eco Libris’ Green Books Campaign

On to my review…

Book: Finding Chief Kamiakin – The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot
Author: Richard D. Scheuerman and Michael O. Finley
Publisher: WSU Press
175 pages (Coffee table paperback book)
My Rating: I am halfway through the book so I will only say that so far it is excellent!

Chief Kamiakin was an important chief of Inland Washington area in the mid-1850s. It was a time of westward expansion and both the fur trade and gold mining were booming. The indigenous people of the Northwest were faced with having their ancestral lands moved in on by the White man and sought to protect their people and their way of life. Chief Kamiakin rose to prominence because he believed in protecting this very thing. He heard about other indigenous peoples’ encounters with White men and was wary about what would happen to his own people and the land they lived off of. Despite these sweeping changes that were about to happen, Kamiakin was an honorable man that welcomed White men, albeit cautiously. When it became evident that U.S. policy was to take the land whether it was agreed upon or not, Kamiakin and some of his fellow Indians took up arms to protect their way of life.

This review is going to be posted in two parts since I am only halfway through the book. I also admit that I have never actually read a coffee table sized book because I tend to just pick it up and look at the pictures. This book has convinced me that I need to start paying more attention to large size books because so far, it is excellent! I know nothing about the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and when this book popped up on the Eco Libris campaign I jumped at the chance to review it. So far, the story goes almost like all other native peoples’ stories in the U.S that I am familiar with. There is one big difference. The Pacific Northwest natives knew of previous treatment of other indigenous people so they knew what they were facing and those odds were not in their favor. It is interesting to read about how they dealt with the coming changes and how their lives have already been affected by the change with more accessible trade routes.

I am tempted to say that this was an advantage for them, but this would be a lie. Governor Isaac Stevens was bent on having the railroad built in Washington and opening up the land to mining and agriculture. Kamiakin was aware of Stevens’ goals and sought out the advice of Father Pandosy, a man he considered a trusted friend. What Pandosy told Kamiakin was disheartening:

“It is as I feared,” Pandosy told Kamiakin, “the Whites will take your country as they have taken other countries from the Indians….Where there are only a few here now, others will come with each year until your country will be overrun with them….[Y]our lands will be seized and your people driven from their homes. It has been so with other tribes; it will be so with you. You may fight and delay for a time this invasion, but you cannot avert it. I have lived many summers with you and baptized a great many of your people into the faith. I have learned to love you. I cannot advice or help you. I wish I could.” (p. 31-32 Finding Chief Kamiakin)

The book is written in such a way that although it is non-fiction, I felt myself reacting with true sorrow over statements like these. Scheuerman and Finley write in a mostly clear and powerful manner and quotes like these were placed in a way that make me feel like I was there watching that exchange take place. Chief Kamiakin must have felt despair for his people and for himself at what he knew was inevitable. Rather than allow his people to suffer on reservations that didn’t include things like their traditional fishing grounds, Kamiakin and others took up arms to give their people a chance to have at least some of their way of life preserved. After fighting at Toppenish Creek, Kamiakin had a letter dictated to Father Pandosy that was one of the most powerful things I have ever read. Here is a short excerpt:

“If the Governor had said to us, my children, I am asking you a parcel of land in each tribe for the Americans, but the land and your country are always yours, we would then have given with good will what he would have asked us and we would have lived with you as brothers. But he has taken us in small groups and thrown us out of our native country, into a strange land among people who is our enemy (for between us we are enemies) in a place where our people do not even have enough to eat for themselves.” (p. 48, Finding Chief Kamiakin)

I admired his efforts to fight for enough land to sustain his people. Governor Stevens seemed to be a major part of the problem (but I do feel if it weren’t him it would have been someone else that did exactly the same thing) and didn’t understand nor care about the Indians’ differences in culture and tribe. Stevens was of the prevailing thought of the day—that the Indians would assimilate and learn to farm and graze livestock or be eliminated from the earth. This was all too common in westward expansion. Were the leaders of the tribes supposed to sit there and watch their children starve because they couldn’t live off of the land? Reservations were not the choice pieces of land that allowed people to live fruitfully.

Thus far, the book gives a very good, descriptive account of what the Palouses, Cayuses, Yakamas, and other native groups faced during the American expansion into the Inland Washington area. The chiefs of the Washington tribes were skilled in negotiations because of their experiences in trading and their knowledge of the Americans’ westward movement. It makes it difficult to read because they were fighting a losing battle both on the war front and the diplomacy front. This book and others should be read by us all because all too often we do not see how our nations’ policies and actions affect those people that we are trying to help or infringing upon. It is a part of history that isn’t covered very well in U.S. History class—we tend to applaud the idea of Manifest Destiny and the entrepreneurial spirit, but our actions as a nation had consequences to those people we infringed upon. I am loving Finding Chief Kamiakin – The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot because it is giving a clear voice to the indigenous people of the United States—one that is long overdue.

**I will post Part 2 of my review next week or the week after.
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