Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Political Science

Publication Date



Relationships between indigenous Americans and non-indigenous settlers of the western United States were determined in great part by the presence or absence of natural resources for which the groups competed. This paper is a study of the shifting patterns of inter-ethnic relations and governmental policies towards Indians and resources in Washington and Oregon from the 1850s to the present. We explore the connections between natural resource endowments on aboriginal lands, beliefs about indigenous peoples, and changing governmental policies affecting indigenous American communities in the two states. As philosophies guiding natural resource management have evolved over the course of the 20th century from notions of conquest and progress to approximations of ecological sustainability, how have the original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest been involved? How do indigenous peoples’ beliefs, traditional knowledges, and management practices impact environmental policy today and how might they shape future management of natural resources? Are we witnessing a paradigm shift in thinking that guides both inter-ethnic relations and human-nature relationships at the dawn of a new millennium?