In 1830s, the NNA inhabitants of the Southern Hills, Chocktaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Cherokee were, in a prelude to the final tragedy, ripped untimely from their farms and gardens and sent along the Trail of Tears to an utterly alien Indian Territory in what became Oklahoma. Within 50 years, the title to their holdings had been finagled from the Scotch-Irish inhabitants of the Blue Ridge Mountains [who sang that?] and other huge tracts of Appalachia by lawyers for Capital. Capital couldn't bare the idea that people would be indifferent to money and content with what they could grow and hunt and gather from the common forest and its interlacing water-courses. The descendants of these dispossessed people voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016 because of specious promises that the coal-mines and ancillary industries could be brought back from the dead.
shoats will be big enough to kill for meat after the mast is gone". What more indeed: when Dau.II, my latter-day ideologue of minimal inputs, stopped working a five day week, she asked the same question. "Why, I have four sorts of cheese in my fridge", she added to give substance to the rhetoric.
Swidden is a word sufficiently familiar to me that I had to check I hadn't written something like this post before. It's essentially what we do on our commonage on the hills behind our home: setting fire to the leggy, woody heather Calluna vulgaris and whin Ulex europaeus to promote a more sheep-nutritious aftermath. I am really skeptical about the value of heather burning but in other climes swidden can be extra-ordinarily productive: a slash-and-burn cycle through a tropical forest to plant rice can yield a calorific return on investment of 25-to-1. The best mechanised rice production can do is one tenth of that. Stoll uses his enquiries into the Appalachian tragedy as a platform to investigate other societies where people are content to live simply, work no more than they have to, and spend the rest of their time reciting the songlines of their world. Sure beats working a 12 hour day tailoring shirts for Marks & Spencer.