The trees at the heart of this paper are not an isolated story but contribute to the machinery of the settler colonial present, feeding off indigenous dispossession of the Arkansas Ozarks. In this paper, I explore “trail trees,” a form of culturally-modified tree used to sustain and perpetuate replacement narratives romanticizing a lost Native American past and constructing a pure, modern, scientific “reality” of White settler possession of the region. My critique is directed at the settler colonial worldview and the systems through which it is constructed, legitimated, and spread. I ask: What is at stake for advocates for the existence of “trail trees”? What can disrupt and dismantle the “trail tree” discourse and the replacement narrative that it functions within? What work can we do to create an opening for anti-colonial praxis? The answers to these questions involve direct engagement with conservation and conservationists and the narratives of replacement that suffuse their work.
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CLIMATE CHANGE, CONSERVATION, AND DEVELOPMENT| December 28 2022
Returning to the “Natural State”: Trail Trees and Settler Colonial Conservation in the Arkansas Ozarks
Ramey Moore is an Assistant Professor in the Office of Community Health and Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Prior research has focused on human-environmental interactions, ecologies of health, and social inequalities. He has worked with a range of communities in Arkansas and the Ozarks, especially with Marshallese Islanders and the Hispanic community, in addition to his work with environmentalists in the region. Most recently, his work has focused on understanding and improving vaccine uptake among underserved communities in Arkansas.
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Human Organization (2022) 81 (4): 338–347.
Ramey Moore; Returning to the “Natural State”: Trail Trees and Settler Colonial Conservation in the Arkansas Ozarks. Human Organization 1 December 2022; 81 (4): 338–347. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/1938-3525-81.4.338
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