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Grant number like: FB-50600-04

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Marsha Lee Weisiger
New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM 88003-8002)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products][Prizes]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2004 – 5/31/2005

Sheep Dreams: Environment, Identity, and Gender in Navajo Country

Sheep Dreams explores the dynamic relationship between Dine (Navajo) pastoralism, cultural identity, and gendered issues of power during the 1930s New Deal. Federal policy-makers responded to an overgrazed range and the threat of accelerated erosion by radically reducing the numbers of Navajo livestock and attempting to revolutionize livestock management, with a market logic. In their haste to respond to an ecological crisis, New Deal conservationists unwittingly made environmental matters worse by failing to appreciate the importance of pastoralism to ethnic identity, women's autonomy, and Dine understandings of nature; by refusing to listen to Navajos' advice in creating the conservation program; and by opening new areas to grazing and restricting traditional seasonal movements of flocks across the land. The consequence is a chronically degraded landscape. Sheep Dreams pays particular attention to the importance of women in the livestock economy, their role in shaping nature, and their resistance to livestock reduction. It also pays particular attention to cultural constructions of nature and the convergence between gender, identity, and environmental change.