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date: 18 April 2024

Mining and the Environmentlocked

Mining and the Environmentlocked

  • George VrtisGeorge VrtisEnvironmental Studies and History, Carleton College
  •  and Kirke ElsassKirke ElsassHistory, Montana State University

Summary

Human societies have always depended upon minerals. Even a cursory glance at any world history textbook reveals the centrality of minerals—and thus mining—in forging human cultures in antiquity. The stone age, the bronze age, the iron age—each of these complex periods are, in part, defined by the increasing human engagement with the minerals used to characterize them. In the history of the United States, mineral extraction has also been fundamental to the nature and evolution of the nation, as well as its colonial and Indigenous pasts. It was present in Native American societies prior to European contact, accelerated with European colonization, became foundational with the advent of the industrial revolution, was renegotiated with the rise of the environmental movement, and has influenced the United States’ relationship with many parts of the world. As these developments have unfolded, mining and mineral use have radically altered the natural world and profoundly shaped people’s relationships with the environment and with one another.

Subjects

  • Environmental History

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