Knack, Martha C. Boundaries Between: The Southern Paiutes, 1775-1995. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 471 pp.
Reviewed by Kevin Cassady.
Southern Utah and southern Nevada are two of the fastest growing areas in the United States, and the natural resources are being strained to the breaking point. Water is scarce and must be piped in from distant lakes and reservoirs, and pollution threatens the health of the area’s inhabitants and wildlife. Yet before the Las Vegas valley was a sprawling metropolis, and before Mormon pioneers built the Saint George temple, a small band of Native Americans called the arid landscape of what is now southern Utah, southern Nevada, northern Arizona and a small part southeastern California their home. The Southern Paiutes, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe, survived in this desert region by constantly moving and following food sources with the changing seasons. However, when Euro-Americans invaded the tribe’s desert habitat, their non-native livestock consumed and settlers appropriated the Paiutes’ sparse food and water sources leaving the Paiutes with few options for survival.
Martha C. Knack’s book Boundaries Between: The Southern Paiutes, 1775-1995 recounts the Southern Paiutes’ history from the time when they first encountered Euro-Americans (Spanish padres trying to find a route to California from New Mexico) to modern society. Knack blends her research into a compelling narrative about the struggles of the Southern Paiutes in their efforts not to lose their way of life. The central focus of the book is, however, the interaction between the Southern Paiutes and Euro-Americans, particularly their misunderstanding of each other’s lifestyles.
Boundaries Between, while written in an academic style, is easy to read and comprehend. Knack’s research is extensive and includes maps and black and white photographs for illustration. This book is an essential read for those who are curious about the history of southern Utah and its indigenous people.