Why Environmental History Matters: A Case Study in Washington State's Indigenous Laws
Tuesday, October 19th | 4pm - 5pm
Join WSU Vancouver Library in the second installment of the event series, “Our Communities: Actions Towards Justice,” as we hear from WSU Vancouver alum Kay Hall. Hall will be discussing, in part, her Undergraduate Podium Presentation, “State v. Towessnute and State v. Meninock: State Conservation and Indigenous Rights,” which won first place in last year’s Research Showcase at WSU Vancouver. In Hall's own words about the presentation, "This is a microhistory (in this case, the study of specific individuals/circumstances that demonstrate a broader theme in environmental history) and a legal case study (of two WA State Supreme Court cases).
I was able to tell this story because I tracked it through a broad variety of primary sources including cannery records, newspaper clippings, a fish consumption survey, court cases, handwritten census data, typewritten meeting minutes, and more! Since this was written during the pandemic, I relied on digitized archives from WSU and elsewhere for a lot of my information.
In this paper I told the stories of two members of the Yakama nation, Alexander Towessnute and George Meninock, as they grappled with the Washington State legal system and led their nation's protests against anti-Native laws and individuals. I sketched the characters of major players including some of the judges, lawyers, and state officials who were involved. I explained how the court cases played out, how that was significant in the legal field, and what impact it has had to this day. I also tackled the "so what?" of it all by connecting it to current activism, 2020's wildfire season, and environmental management strategies moving forward."
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Kay Hall is currently a student at Colorado State University, where she is pursuing an MA in History. Her focus is on environmental and public history. She likes to call it, "being David Attenborough for your backyard." She's been passionate about this since the age of 10, when she enrolled in Fort Vancouver's dame school program. If she isn't reading for classes you can find her either climbing or knitting. She plans to work as an educator or interpreter in the environmental field once she has finished her degree.
This is the second event for the WSU Vancouver Library’s event series, “Our Communities: Actions Towards Justice.” Join us throughout the year as we hear from those taking action towards justice for our local and intercultural communities. For questions about this event or the series, please contact Sam Buechler: email@example.com