However polite its title, the 1891 “Petition to the Senators and Representatives of the Congress of the United States in the Behalf of the Remnants of the former Tribes of the Yosemite Indians Praying for Aid and Assistance” was anything but deferential.
The petition offered a blunt critique of the mostly white gold miners’ brutal incursion into the Yosemite region in the late 1840s. It sharply criticized the state-sanctioned violence that California unleashed in the 1850s on the Indigenous Peoples of the Central Sierra, and astutely recognized that elite tourists—and the amenities they required to cushion their late nineteenth-century visits to the rugged landscape—were also responsible for cultural disruption and physical dispossession. The petition reported that the previous half century of exploitation had turned the Ahwahneechii and Monos into “poorly-clad paupers and unwelcome guests, silently the objects of curiosity or contemptuous pity to the throngs of strangers who yearly gather in this our own land and heritage.”
The once fertile and sustaining terrain of the Indigenous Peoples had been torn apart. “The gradual destruction of its trees, the occupancy of every foot of its territory by bands of grazing horses and cattle, the decimation of the fish in the river, the destruction of every means of support for ourselves and families by the rapacious acts of the whites,” the petition asserted, would “shortly result in the total exclusion of the remaining remnants of our tribes from this our beloved valley, which has been ours from time beyond our faintest traditions, and which we still claim.”
The US government did not respond to this appeal for the return of tribal lands, an ironclad treaty that would protect their inheritance, and compensation for their decades of immiseration. Instead, the petition, to which forty-three survivors put their names, was buried in the 1891 report of Yosemite’s acting park superintendent. But its bureaucratic fate doesn’t diminish its importance any more than does the probability that the document’s amanuensis was a Euro-American fluent in English. The oral histories on which the petition depends, and, as anthropologist Ed Castillo observed, the “incredible description” it provides of the “political, military, and ecological factors driving remaining tribesmen from their valley could only have as their source local Indigenous knowledge.”
That knowledge, and the distressing catalogue of injustices it contains, is an important challenge to settler-colonial justifications for How the West Was Won. One facet of that master narrative also centers on Yosemite National Park— by the time tourists arrived to “ooh and ahhh” over its iconic waterfalls, steep granite walls, and staggering vistas, the land was “empty.” Its putative emptiness, the result of violent dispossession, set the stage for an early twentieth-century, decade-long battle over whether to build a dam in the park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley. The dam’s proponents, including federal officials, as well as citizens and politicians in San Francisco eager to secure a stable water supply following the 1906 earthquake that devastated the city, believed the dam was emblematic of Progressive Era reforms that provided essential—and publicly owned—resources to a rapidly urbanizing society. John Muir, founding president of the Sierra Club, which was established in 1892, was among those who pushed back, arguing that the dam’s construction would inundate the wild Hetch Hetchy Valley. “Dam Hetch Hetchy!” he thundered, “as well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated for the heart of man.”
What neither side admitted was that their respective arguments depended on a shared perception that no one lived in the Hetch Hetchy Valley., or that no had ever lived there. Its emptiness enabled dam supporters to conclude that the site would be perfect for a reservoir. Its emptiness, for those like Muir who pressed for the valley’s preservation, was a mark of its higher utility as pristine nature. Yet to conceive of this valley as devoid of people required two forms of erasure of the history and contemporary status of the Indigenous Peoples that their 1891 petition so brilliantly evoked.
The first erasure occurred in the mid-nineteenth century, when California and the United States governments sanctioned the violent expulsion of the Indigenous Peoples from the Sierras’s flanking valleys and foothills. The dispossession of the Miwok, Paiute, Shoshone, and others from their ancestral territories was an act of genocide, historian Benjamin Madley argues in American Genocide. He writes: the “pressures of demographics (the migration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants), economics (the largest gold rush in US history), and profound racial hatred all made the genocide possible, it took sustained political will—at both the federal and state levels—to create the laws, policies, and well-funded killing machine that carried it out and ensured its continuation over decades.”
The second erasure is embedded in the continuing and disquieting silence over the interlocking connection between the ruthless uprooting of Indigenous Peoples from the Yosemite region, the establishment of the national park, and the subsequent Hetch Hetchy controversy. Until that silence is broken, our understanding of the ongoing debate about the dam and reservoir will remain incomplete. This accounting is especially necessary because scholars and activists assert that the formative battle over the Hetch Hetchy dam marked the birth of the modern environmental movement in the United States. The assertion reveals a troubling and complicated story.
Muir was integral to each of these erasures. Consider his reflections that he jotted down in his journal after a hike up what he called Bloody Canyon in Mono County and then revised for publication in his book The Mountains of California 1894). Entering the pass, the “huge rocks began to close around in all their wild, mysterious impressiveness,” Muir wrote, “when suddenly, as I gazed eagerly about me, a drove of gray, hairy beings came into sight., lumbering toward with a kind of boneless, wallowing motion like bears.” Anxious about “so grim a company,” and suppressing his fears, he realized “that although hairy as bears and as crooked as summit pines, the strange creatures were sufficiently erect to belong to our own species.” He was hiking up a trail that the Mono and other Indigenous Peoples had worn smooth over the millennia, transiting between the Mono and Owens basins and Yosemite and the valleys below. His disdain for these men and women shows throughout his descriptions, such as, “the dirt on their faces was fairly stratified and seemed so ancient and so undisturbed it might almost possess a geological significance.” To Muir they belonged to a distant time, and befouled his wilderness. “Somehow they seemed to have no right place in the landscape, and I was glad to see them fading out of sight down the pass.”
The larger settler-colonial culture adopted his perspective and, whether Indigenous Peoples were forced out of Yosemite by force of arms or the scratch of a pen, a key consequence was that this “empty” terrain was ripe for commercial exploitation. Tourism to the region, enabled by a growing cross-continental transportation grid, and the growth of San Francisco and Los Angeles, was fueled by artists and photographers who visited the region a decade or more before Muir’s arrival there in 1868. James Mason Hutchings, who hired Muir to work at his Yosemite hotel, was a relentless promoter. He drew a swelling number of artists, scientists, and tourists to make the arduous journey to the remote location through his publication of tour guides, lithographs, and magazine articles about Yosemite’s wonders and curiosities. Many of these visitors recounted their experiences in the rough and wild space, some published, others not. However manifest, these documents reinforced the cultural conversation about what they perceived to be Yosemite’s prime value—a beneficent refuge in an industrializing world, where you could escape civilization, and yet have its amenities.
The sanctuary status was one of the key arguments that Muir and others developed in the early twentieth century against the city of San Francisco and its political allies who laid claim to the Hetch Hetchy Valley inside what became Yosemite National Park. The thrust and counterthrust manifested in a series of congressional hearings, in the pages of many of the nation’s leading magazines and newspapers, and in oft angry speeches. The fierce debate testifies to the centrality of a valley that few Americans had ever visited. Even though San Francisco’s interests prevailed, and the O’Shaughnessy Dam and its steep-walled reservoir that funnels potable water to the Bay Area was built, the controversy continues to simmer. Beginning in the 1980s, an odd coalition of Republican state and national politicians and the Sierra Club and its allies periodically call into question San Francisco’s reliance on the reservoir and urge the federal government to tear down the dam and restore the long-submerged valley.
Yet any resolution of this enduring latest struggle to define the future of Hetch Hetchy, and by extension Yosemite, must start by prioritizing what hitherto has been ignored. Novelist, historian, and activist David Treuer writes, “America’s national parks comprise only a small fraction of the land stolen from Native Americans, but they loom large in the broader story of our dispossession.” His pithy conclusion—”the American West began with war but concluded with parks”—is mirrored in the Yosemite Indigenous Peoples’ claims asserted in the 1891 petition: “We say this valley was not given to us by our fathers for a day, or a year, but for all time.”
Char Miller is the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History at Pomona College and the director of the Claremont Colleges‘ environmental analysis program.
Adapted from The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall: Language, Memory, and Indigenous California, by Andrew Garrett, published by The MIT Press (to appear in 2023).
It rained for ten days in late February and early March 1911. “Enough Water to Last All Summer” was the Sacramento Bee headline. Juan Dolores was stuck inside, unable to do the work that had brought him to the state capital. Instead, he spent 14 hours a day writing out a story in O’odham, the Indigenous language of his childhood, family, and people in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. Writing all 2,873 words took him seven days; a precise English translation took two more. He finished at 11 pm, went to bed, and dreamed about translating O’odham.
Dolores described his dream in a letter: “I saw words appearing on the wall, like [a] moving picture show. First a word would go clear across the wall and then automatically arrange itself into two or three words. Sometimes there would be only one letter and under it, would be two or three English words. When I awoke, I said this is no dream. It is the correct way of writing the Indian language.” He emphasized the semantic complexity of O’odham: “I have to write t[w]o or three English words for one Indian word.”
The story Juan Dolores finished writing in March 1911 was one of dozens that he wrote and rewrote in a lifetime devoted to documenting the O’odham language. When he died in 1948, he left thousands of manuscript pages and over 60 sound recordings of his own voice and the voices of elders he recorded. Dolores was “the first writer of his people’s legends,” to quote a later romanticized formulation, and he did write many creation stories (“legends”). He also transcribed oratory, vocabulary, the autobiographies of elders, the words of songs and what they signify, and a memoir of his Arizona childhood in the 1880s and 1890s. For four decades from 1909 to 1948, he did most of this language work as a University of California researcher and museum employee.
The University of California does not memorialize such details, but Dolores may have been its first Indigenous employee. He was almost certainly its first Indigenous researcher. Yet though he is well known to O’odham people in Arizona, in Berkeley he is almost forgotten. His career and life reveal the challenges facing an Indigenous scholar and writer within the academy in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as his profound achievements in the face of such challenges.
Dolores was born about 1880 on the Mexican side of the border dividing a transnational O’odham community. His parents moved the family to the US, where Dolores enrolled in government schools in Arizona and Colorado. In 1898, he entered the Hampton Institute, a primarily Black college in Virginia, graduating in 1901 and continuing for a year in a postgraduate course. In his last student years, Dolores showed his aptitude as a writer, publishing a short creation story (a “legend”) in TheIndian Advance and a valedictory perspective, “As an Indian Sees It,” in the Hampton Institute’s monthly magazine.
In 1901, Dolores spoke at the Nineteenth Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian, a meeting of white philanthropists who thought they knew what was best for Indigenous people. His speech recounted the words of an O’odham elder who had asked: “What is that thought so great and so sacred that cannot be expressed in our own language, that we should seek to use the white man’s words?” Credited to an elder rather than in his own persona, this was a polite rebuke of his hosts, who favored the assimilation of Indigenous people into Euro-American culture and the elimination of tribal authority. It was also a repudiation of language practices that brutalized children throughout the US, at schools whose students were taught Euro-American ways and severely disciplined if they spoke their languages.
Dolores had been one of those students. He did not know English when he first entered the Tucson Indian School. If students were overheard speaking an Indigenous language, he later wrote in his O’odham-language memoir, the teachers “would punish us with the mule whip, or would give us extra work, or would lock us up in the dark house.” But he channeled his linguistic commitment into subversive play. If a teacher happened to say an English word that sounded like O’odham, Dolores would whisper that to the other students. Ita tcitcivitak hepay ha’itcu sta’a’askima o’otamkatc, he wrote: “this was very funny in O’odham.” Sometimes one of the others “could not control herself and she would just burst out laughing. I was delighted. I was constantly listening for words that would sound funny in O’odham.”
Dolores headed back west after his school years. Seasonal work as a teamster and skilled laborer took him to Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and California. It was in San Francisco that he met the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber in 1909. The two men — one in his early thirties, the other a few years younger — had very different backgrounds but converging goals.
Kroeber, born in 1876 to a middle-class German-American family in New York, had come to the University of California in 1901 after finishing a Columbia University anthropology PhD. His central research mission was recording Indigenous languages and stories. Many aspects of culture interested him, but he had shifted to anthropology from literature and once said that his “actual work will always be literature.” His main legacy a century later is the documentation of languages, speech, stories, and songs that Indigenous people in California and elsewhere shared in their work with him, his students, and his colleagues.
Like most contemporary Euro-Americans, Kroeber believed mistakenly that Native American cultures and languages were “dying” or even “extinct.” Recording them whenever possible was seen as urgent by some anthropologists and many Indigenous people themselves. Their purposes were not the same. Researchers like Kroeber thought Native languages and stories could make world culture more ecumenical and culturally tolerant, while Indigenous people understood that they were making records for their own communities.
Indigenous cultures did not die out, of course. Some languages remain vital, too, despite policies of language oppression in government schools. Others are in peril, with just a few elders who grew up with language in the home; or dormant, without speakers but with people who want to learn. Throughout California in 2023, as communities reclaim their languages and stories from archives, what prescient ancestors shared and wrote down a hundred years ago is given new life every day.
Kroeber knew that Indigenous people themselves, with the proper tools, could transcribe their own languages better than outsiders like himself. So part of his work included teaching Indigenous people how to write their languages — in Dolores’s case, the O’odham language he had been whipped for speaking in school. Together, Dolores and Kroeber worked out a quasi-phonetic spelling system for O’odham. With this, Dolores began what would be his life’s work.
Dolores’s employment was itinerant for many years. The University of California hired him for O’odham language work with Kroeber in 1909 and 1911-13. According to UC records, he was first a regular “employee” (rather than a consultant or contractor) in April 1912. Until 1916 he worked for the UC anthropology museum in San Francisco, where his duties included public lectures on O’odham culture. In 1918-19, he held a UC research fellowship to engage in linguistic fieldwork, recording O’odham elders in Arizona.
In 1926, Dolores returned permanently to university work. He had worked outside academia since 1919, but he had health problems as well as a strong desire to resume O’odham linguistic research. Toward the end of 1925, he was hospitalized in Los Angeles with chest pain and an infected foot. He used a cane after he left the hospital. “My speed is about that of a snail,” Dolores wrote with his usual dark humor. “A continuous strain through these five months has now deprived me of my good looks and all that is left of me is courage.” Bruce Bryan, an archaeologist at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, told Dolores in February that he might be able to hire him in a month or so. Meanwhile, Dolores reported, “the pain inside of me got worse” and he used crutches for a while. He told Kroeber that he wanted to continue “that work I started with you some years ago” and that an O’odham dictionary “will give me something to do for a long time.” Otherwise, he lamented, “I shall have to sell shoestrings and chewing-gum for my living.”
So it was that Dolores resumed full-time UC museum work for ten years beginning in 1926; in 1931, the anthropology museum moved from San Francisco to Berkeley. In 1936 and 1937, Dolores managed a government-funded research project at the University of Chicago, focusing on the lives of Mexican immigrants. He returned again to Berkeley and his museum job late in 1937, eventually retiring as a “senior preparator” a few weeks before his death in 1948.
The presence of an Indigenous scholar in conventionally white spaces fascinated newspapers and presumbly their readers. In 1911, the Dolores-Kroeber collaboration occasioned a San Francisco Examiner article steeped in dehumanizing language ideologies. “Gestures are a part of [Dolores’s] speech,” the writer opined. “If he broke his arm he could not talk.” The O’odham language was said to express “common English thoughts” with comically long words. Only a month later, ironically, Dolores would recount his dream showing that two or three English words may correspond to one short O’odham word — precisely inverting the Examiner trope.
In 1927, a reporter found it newsworthy that an Indigenous person worked in a university museum. Why, Dolores was asked, had he chosen the job? His answer demonstrates how effectively US acculturation policies had trapped many Indigenous people:
Indian life and customs as I knew them when a boy are more faithfully represented here in showcases than they are on the reservation. Nothing would suit me better than to live as my fathers lived, hunting and fishing and gathering fruit and berries. There is plenty of time for one to think then. But if I were to try to live that way now, I would be arrested for trespass or something.
American practices had removed Indigenous cultural heritage to museums, and kept Native people from living on their own land. Even those who had adopted new ways were subject to Euro-American whims:
I might possibly go back to Arizona and work on a piece of land I have fenced in there — my grandfather was one of the first men in our tribe to raise cattle under his own brand — but I have seen so many of my friends work for years on land and then be evicted by some court order or entanglement in titles, that I wouldn’t dare improve my piece for fear some white man would decide it was worth having.
These comments were quite candid for a medium that often celebrated white benevolence.
Even in 1935, it was national news when Dolores married Sylva Beyer, a UC anthropology graduate student. It made the front page in Oakland (“U.C. Co-ed and Indian Marry”) and Tucson (“Indian and White Woman Marry”). The story ran in Minnesota, and the Oakland Tribune even published a follow-up. Kroeber was the witness at a civil ceremony that was of broader interest only because it challenged assumptions about who belonged in elite spaces.
Dolores published four academic papers on his language. Two presented information about nouns and verbs, respectively; in another, for a volume in honor of Kroeber, he wrote about nicknames. A fourth paper, co-authored with University of California anthropologist Lila O’Neale, was a novel study of O’odham color terminology, showing how it is embedded in its cultural and environmental contexts. As a person’s hair turns white, they wrote, there is a stage when “the head looks … like ground [saguaro] cactus seeds … The kernel is white, but the bits of crushed black shell in the mixture give the whole an appearance of gray, or skaima’ki” (in Dolores’s O’odham spelling). This was two decades before cross-cultural differences in color naming became a prominent object of anthropological and linguistic study.
Dolores also tried to publish the O’odham stories he assembled over many years. Kroeber said his “new way of writing stories” in English might attract general interest, different as it was from the style of academics and “literary people” alike. “I will try to get them placed for you as a book under your own name,” he told Dolores in 1927. He sent some to New York publishers, but nothing came of the attempt.
By 1947, Dolores had prepared a large set of O’odham stories and translations to submit as a scholarly monograph. He was concerned to include all his stories and “not let the little ones get left behind.” He sent the manuscript to the series editor, Charles Voegelin of Indiana University, and continued to work on issues related to spelling. It was not until the month of Dolores’s death in 1948 that Voegelin finally decided not to publish the volume; apparently it was not academically rigorous enough for him. Dolores had returned to Arizona and never found out.
Dolores also did not live to see the publication of an O’odham grammar based on his work. This was written by the linguist J. Alden Mason and published under Mason’s name. While acknowledged in the introduction, Dolores was not named as a co-author even though the book was almost entirely based on Dolores’s own collection of stories, shared with Mason in 1919. It was Dolores, too, who introduced Mason to O’odham people during the linguist’s only Arizona fieldwork, a trip of “a few weeks … to get some impression of the phonetics.” It was common at the time for the intellectual labor of Indigenous collaborators to be deprecated as service or mere data production.
Mason never learned to speak or understand O’odham; he analyzed it through Dolores’s writing alone, as one might study Latin. Dolores had little respect for the man who was writing what they both assumed would be a major reference. “How does anybody know how to write a word unless he knows how that word is pronounced?” he asked in 1919. Kroeber promised “to try to see to it that you get a crack at everything he does before publication.”
Dolores also disagreed with Mason’s linguistic choices. The 1911 dream that showed Dolores “the correct way of writing” O’odham expressed a sense that its sentences had many small words. These include grammatical particles and pronouns that Mason chose to treat as parts of complex words. Partial English parallels are I’ll and wouldn’t’ve. Mason might have called each a single word; Dolores might have said they are two (I + ’ll) or three (would + n’t + ’ve). “Dr. Mason takes a whole phrase and calls it a word,” Dolores complained in 1920, “because he can’t understand why any part of an unpronounceable collection of syllables should have any special meaning.”
Most of all, Dolores was upset by Mason’s long delay in finishing the grammar. It was not a high priority to Mason amid other professional obligations, but to Dolores it was absolutely essential to see it completed. His letters to Kroeber reiterate his impatience as he waited for the indirect fruit of his own intellectual labor. Whatever Mason has done, he wrote in 1921, “I am sure is good enough to all who don’t know the [O’odham] language … I wish him good luck but more speed, so I can see the work finished before I depart to some other sphere.”
A year later, he echoed this sentiment with characteristic irony: “My health is good, but my teeth are getting bad, and I suppose when I can’t eat, I can’t live. I must be nearing the time when I shall have to take a trip to some other planet, so hurry up Dr Mason, I want to see his work before I go.” Tragically, it was not until 1950, two years after Dolores died, that the grammar based on his work saw the light of day. He never held it in his hands.
The whimsy in Dolores’s language dream and imagined interplanetary voyage was an enduring feature of his writing. In a May 1911 letter from Sacramento, he speculated about a Berkeley linguist formulating grammatical “rules” for O’odham:
Whoever makes the rules for the [O’odham] language, he or she must take into consideration the great difference in the climate of southern Ariz. and Berkeley. You see, I was thinking that many things which grow in Berkeley could not grow in southern Ariz. The climate I think could make anything grow in Berkeley, I believe, I grew some the time I was there. The hot weather has taken me back to about 150 lbs now. For this reason I am compelled to think very seriously, whether the rules now growing on the college grounds (there among the beautiful grass, trees, and flowers, and the nice sea breeze blowing over them every day) could not be too tender, and when exposed to that hot and dry climate of Ariz., get sun burned, change its color, [d]ry up, lose its flexibility, it[s] elasticity and break.
Dolores’s fanciful comments about environment and grammar anticipated his disapproval of Mason’s knowledge of O’odham from writing alone, as well as his collaoration with O’Neale on the ecological context of O’odham color terms. To understand the language, it would be best to learn to speak it in the place it truly lived.
Later that year, Ishi walked into Oroville, California. Publicity surrounded a man who was luridly called a “wild Indian.” Kroeber and his colleague T. T. Waterman both said the US should grant him land in his ancestral territory; newspapers predicted a treaty. Dolores saw this and said he should hide in the mountains so white people could “find” him too. Then, he wrote, “tell [President] Taft or somebody, that they have to make a treaty with me. I think that will be the only way I can get some good place to stay the rest of my life.”Whimsy could not mask the need so many Indigenous people had for their land back.
Wherever he found himself, Dolores was linguistically aware. In 1914, he and his brother were working in Los Angeles together with two young O’odham men. “We have a tent by ourselves,” he told Kroeber, “and in the evenings we tell to one another the funny things our people used to do, and what they used to say.” One of the young men spoke the Akimel O’odham dialect, called “Pima” at the time. “When the Pima boy speaks,” Dolores wrote, “I nearly always laugh at him; not because he always tells a funny story, but I laugh at the way he expresses himself. I have not heard the Pima language for a long time, and it sounds funny to me.” The pleasure that Dolores’s language gave him is a recurring theme in his writing.
Dolores returned to his own land with university support during his research fellowship year, 1918-19, recording the speech (and songs) of O’odham elders. Even then, his correspondence highlights the clash between his employers’ assumptions and Indigenous realities. To reimburse a researcher for expenses incurred, university procedures (then and now) require receipts. The acting museum head asked, “Will it not be possible for you to obtain the receipt for the $3.00 you paid for the two stories, and for the $1.50 for the saddle?” In a letter from November 1918, Dolores explained how inappropriate this would be:
The people who came through San Xavier are some relations to me, and they let me have the saddle horse to Tucson. They charged me nothing, but I gave them the $1.50. I thought that this was right; I might need their help again out in the desert. … I did not ask anybody to sign a voucher, because by that act the thing freely given becomes a different thing altogether. The $1.50 which I gave is not the value of the service to me. It only shows to my friends that I am as willing to give any help that I can. I might go on and make a longer explanation which I think will not do me any good; so charge the $1.50 to me.
People who insist on signatures may be “looked upon now,” he added, “as we look upon a German spy.” More generally, a Euro-American assumption (then and, all too often, now) was that research in Native communities is transactional — money for knowledge. Dolores knew better. Indigenous community-based research is relational, and succeeds only in the context of healthy, mutually supportive relationships.
Writing to Kroeber in 1920, Dolores spun out a fantasy of O’odham language collaboration under the stars:
Some day when we are all well, I’ll build a house and then I’ll send you that invitation. I am in no hurry about building that house, and if you want to come out next summer I’ll find somebody to board us, and we’ll sleep in the open, look at the stars, and talk [O’odham] until your tongue gets tired flying up and down trying to make that t [sound] … In day times, when you are not working on the [O’odham] language, it will be a good exercise to go out and help me chop trees, dig stumps, or if it rains we’ll plant corn, beans and do all kinds of stunts you never done before. While doing the above named exercises, we will at the same time puzzle out the meanings of [O’odham] phrases.
The first sentence alludes to long-term health problems. These included tooth pain; and Dolores’s 1925 hospitalization was mentioned above. In 1940, a workplace fall damaged a shoulder and caused permanent loss of vision in one eye. Worse still, in November 1947, the elderly Dolores was beaten up, robbed, and left unconscious outside his Oakland apartment. Doctors suspected traumatic brain injury, though Dolores “seemed cheerful.” From this assault he never fully recovered.
After Kroeber married Theodora Kracaw Brown in 1926, Dolores grew close to their whole family. He had a weekly dinner invitation at their Berkeley home and spent his vacation every year with them at their summer house. Their daughter, the writer Ursula K. Le Guin, recalled that “Juan — a killer croquet player — always got there in time for his birthday” at the end of June.Dolores gave Christmas presents to the children, like a bow and arrows to four-year-old Karl in 1930. “I hope he’ll not be trying to shoot his play mates,” Dolores wrote. “The arrows have no points but I imagine Carl will not be hunting mountain lions and the arrows will be good enough to play with.”
Le Guin also remembered Dolores’s first vacation with her family, in 1931, “the summer I learned to walk.” She would “stagger” over to him and ask him to walk with her:
And whatever he was doing, writing or reading or talking or working, Juan would excuse himself and gravely accompany me across the yard and up the driveway on a great journey of a hundred yards or so, I holding on to him by one finger. . . . I know which finger it was, the first of his left hand, a strong, thick, dark finger that entirely and warmly filled my hand.
Those who knew Dolores well were aware of how important his relationship with Kroeber was. At the end of Dolores’s short marriage to Silva Beyer, who lived with him in Chicago in 1935-37, she told Kroeber that “you . . . are far more significant to him than I had become.” And Dolores’s niece Rosaria Vavages wrote Kroeber in April 1947 that her uncle “has told me a lot about you and your family [and] how he feels that your family is his family too.”
Juan Dolores died on July 19, 1948, in Vamori, Arizona in the Tohono O’odham Nation. He had left Berkeley for the last time when he retired at the end of June. He reached Tucson “a very sick man,” his niece said. He hardly ate, but every day he “dragged himself to the park,” which was cooler than the house and his room (“just like an oven”).  He would not let her call a doctor, insisting instead that he be taken to Vamori, where he could be buried near his brother and sister. Dolores had lived almost all his life away from O’odham land, but wanted to be home with his family. He asked his niece to tell his Berkeley colleagues that she should receive his pension, and to send Kroeber all the manuscripts he had brought with him in retirement.
Dolores’s O’odham manuscripts record language, stories, and songs. He added many details about language and the contexts and meaning of what he recorded. One 60-page story is followed by six pages of notes like this: “The race track is that open space, under the mountain, on the west side. There are no trees on this land, and [it] is level. The distance is about 50 mi[les] or more.” A song transcript comments that a word meaning “Come along” is used “only in baby language.” In the song, the earth doctor is “speaking to the earth as if it is his child, holding it by the hand [as] he pull[s] it along, saying Come along.” Dolores’s writing includes histories and speeches, biography and geography. As a whole, it comprises an O’odham cultural atlas from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Dolores’s manuscripts have been scattered over the decades and are now housed in archives in Berkeley, Tucson, and Philadelphia. His memoir has appeared under his name; many of his stories are in a volume assembled by others who acknowledged his contributions but did not credit him as an author. While some of his writing has been brought home, much awaits the reclamation he surely desired. Almost five decades passed from his student essays to his last work, but Juan Dolores, the “gentle, intellectual man, living in exile and poverty” that Le Guin saw in memory, never lost sight of how land and language would strengthen his people.
 “Enough Water to Last All Summer,” Sacramento Bee, March 2, 1911: 3.
 Dolores to Alfred Kroeber, March 16, 1911, Records of the Department of Anthropology, CU-23, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Box 11.
 Like others at the time, Dolores always called his language “Papago” in English. This term is now often seen as a slur, so I have replaced it throughout with “O’odham.”
 For the quotation see Dean Saxton and Lucille Saxton, O’othham Hoho’ok A’agitha: Legends and Lore of the Papago and Pima Indians (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1973), iii.
 Before the Hampton Institute, Dolores spent four years at the Teller Institute in Grand Junction, Colorado: Dolores to Kroeber, December 22, 1925, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49. For brief accounts of Dolores’s life, see A. L. Kroeber, “Juan Dolores, 1880-1948,” American Anthropologist 51 (1949): 96-97, and Juan Dolores and Madeleine Mathiot, “The Reminiscences of Juan Dolores, an Early O’odham linguist,” Anthropological Linguistics 33 (1991): 233-35.
 J. M. Lolorias, “The Last Great War,” The Indian Advance 2/8 (April 1, 1901): 4; John Miguel Lolorias, “As an Indian Sees It,” The Southern Workman 31/9 (1902) 476-80. “Lolorias” was an Anglicization of the O’odham pronunciation of “Dolores.”
 John Lolorias, “Address,” Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian, 1901, ed. Isabel C. Barrows (New York: Lake Mohonk Conference, 1902), 76-77.
 Dolores and Mathiot, “The Reminiscences of Juan Dolores” (n. 5 above): 294, 309, 312-13.
 Letter to Edward Sapir, November 4, 1917, in Victor Golla, ed., The Sapir-Kroeber Correspondence: Letters Between Edward Sapir and A. L. Kroeber, 1905 – 1925 (Berkeley: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, University of California, Berkeley), 260.
 Documents relating to Dolores’s university employment are in Records (n. 2 above), Box 16.
 “Indian to Lecture Here,” San Francisco Examiner, November 21, 1911: 2.
 Dolores to Kroeber, December 22, 1925, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Dolores to Kroeber, February 25, 1926, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 “Juan, Indian, Defies Alphabet,” San Francisco Examiner, February 3, 1911: 3.
 “Indian Guards U.C. Relics of Fathers,” The Ripon Record, May 6, 1927: 5.
 “U.C. Co-ed and Indian Marry,” Oakland Tribune, November 20, 1935: 1; “Papago Indian and White Woman Marry,” Arizona Daily Star, November 21, 1935: 1.
 “Indian’s Bride to Teach at Chicago,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 26, 1935, p. 10; “Indian’s Bride to Help Him Write Book,” Oakland Tribune, November 21, 1935: 21.
 Juan Dolores, “Papago Verb Stems,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 10 (1913): 241-63; Juan Dolores, “Papago Nominal Stems,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 20 (1923): 19-31; Juan Dolores, “Papago Nicknames,” in Essays in Anthropology in Honor of A. L. Kroeber in Celebration of his Sixtieth Birthday, June 11, 1936, ed. Robert H. Lowie (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1936), 45-47.
 Lila M. O’Neale and Juan Dolores, “Notes on Papago Color Designations,” American Anthropologist 45 (1943): 394.
 Kroeber to Dolores, April 16, 1927, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Dolores to Kroeber, July 26, 1947, A. L. Kroeber Papers, BANC MSS C-B 925, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Box 13:15.
 Voegelin to Kroeber, July 9, 1948, Ethnological Documents of the Department and Museum of Anthropology, BANC FILM 2216, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, 134.8.1.
 J. Alden Mason, The Language of the Papago of Arizona (Philadelphia: University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1950), 3.
 Dolores to Kroeber, December 26, 1919, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Kroeber to Dolores, March 9, 1920, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Dolores to Kroeber, August 23, 1921, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Dolores to Kroeber, October 31, 1922, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Dolores to Kroeber, May 10, 1911, Records (n. 2 above), Box 11.
 On Ishi, see chapter 7 of Garrett, Unnaming of Kroeber Hall (first note above), and references cited there.
 “First Train Ride for Nogi Indian,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 5, 1911: 3; “President and Senate to Make Treaty with Aborigine,” Oroville Daily Register, September 4, 1911: 1.
 Dolores to Kroeber, September 10, 1911, Records (n. 2 above), Box 11.
 Dolores to Kroeber, January 4, 1914, Records (n. 2 above), Box 16.
 E. W. Gifford to Dolores, October 30, 1918, Records (n. 2 above), Box 16.
 Dolores to Gifford, November 3, 1918, Records (n. 2 above), Box 16.
 Dolores to Kroeber, August 2, 1920, Records (n. 2 above), Box 16.
 Theodore Kroeber to Alfred Kroeber, November 15, 1947, Theodora Kroeber Quinn Papers, AA-15, Arizona State Museum Library, University of Arizona.
 This and subsequent quotations from Ursula K. Le Guin are to The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination (Boston: Shambala, 2004), 14-17.
 Dolores to Kroeber, December 22, 1930, Records (n. 2 above), Box 49.
 Beyer to Kroeber, June 15, 1937, Kroeber Papers (n. 21 above), Box 13:16.
 Vavages to Kroeber, April 16, 1947, Kroeber Quinn Papers (n. 36 above).
 Vavages to Kroeber, July 22, 1948, Kroeber Quinn Papers (n. 36 above).
 Ethnological Documents (n. 22 above), 134.1.15, p. 62.
 Ethnological Documents (n. 22 above), 134.4E.
 In Berkeley, they are in the Ethnological Documents (n. 22 above); in Tucson, they are in the Kroeber Quinn Papers (n. 36 above); in Philadelphia, they are in the John Alden Mason Papers, Mss.B.M384, American Philosophical Society Library.
 Dolores and Mathiot, “The Reminiscences of Juan Dolores” (n. 5 above); Saxton and Saxton, O’othham Hoho’ok A’agitha (n. 4 above).
Andrew Garrett is a professor of linguistics and the Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith Professor of Cross-Cultural Social Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also director of the California Language Archive.
The Aquarium of the Pacific was founded in the 1990s during a period of questions about what to do with Long Beach’s harbor area. Much of the coast in San Pedro Bay is devoted to industrial use, and the entire shoreline is manipulated. On the far side of the port complex, near the border with Orange County, is a recreational beach. But the waterfront area right between the beach and the port, nearest to downtown Long Beach, had been subject to “ups, downs, and an identity crisis,” in the words of a New York Times reporter writing in 2000.35 In the very early twentieth century, the waterfront hosted the Pike, a Coney-Island-esque bathing area, boardwalk, and amusement park featuring rides and games, concessions, an elaborate hand-carved carousel, and, in a later era, tattoo shops (the buildup to World War II brought the navy to the harbor, and sailors brought demand for tattoos).36
In 1979, the Pike was formally shuttered, though it was well off its heyday before then. The area retained some tourist attractions, notably the docked RMS Queen Mary ocean liner, Howard Hughes’s massive wooden plane, the Spruce Goose (encased in a custom-built geodesic dome), and an annual Grand Prix motor race, begun in 1975.37 But the area was underutilized by urban development standards, and the city considered how to update it. The Disney Corporation managed both the Spruce Goose and the Queen Mary starting in 1988.38 Around then, Disney expressed interest in siting a massive ocean-related theme park in the Long Beach harbor, to be called DisneySea; the entire complex was to include a research center and resort, and to be collectively called Port Disney.39 Fantastical artistic renderings of the complex resembled the contemporary Biosphere 2 artificial environment, with a glistening science-fiction sheen evocative of the space age. But these plans were short-lived; the park was never built.40 The harbor nonetheless contained glimpses of futuristic fancy: a 1967 artist’s rendering of an oil island at night rivals the Disney imaginary; and the Queen Mary and dome, although divested by Disney in the 1990s, still remain today.
Fantastical harbor flourishes aside, the 1990s hit Long Beach hard economically. The navy consolidated its Southern California presence in San Diego, closing a naval station and hospital as well as shuttering a shipyard in the Long Beach harbor. In turn, aviation manufacturing plants reliant on military contracts also closed. It was in this context that the city looked to cultivate tourist attractions, with or without Disney’s involvement. (Simultaneously, the region pursued port development as an economic strategy.) It secured municipal financing to build an aquarium—albeit a more modest, far less spectacular one than the facility Disney had planned—and develop the harbor with a shopping center and refurbished convention center.41 The aquarium was paid for through government funding and philanthropic contributions, although indirectly the municipal funds were tied to the city’s oil revenues.42 The city owns the aquarium, which is managed and operated by a nonprofit organization.43
Public institutions for the display of animals emerged in larger Euro-American cities in the nineteenth century, often with funding from scientific societies.44 Projects of taxonomy and empire, displaying unfamiliar animals from other locales, zoos and aquariums both satisfied and stoked public interest in animal life. Some early American zoos also bore the influence of the urban parks movement, emphasizing conservation of native species. Zoos often resembled amusement parks, offering children rides on ponies and Galápagos tortoises, transporting visitors around the parks on buses and trains, and dramatically exhibiting trained seals and chimpanzees to enthralled audiences, according to historian Pamela Henson. Not unlike circus sideshows, they emphasized the novelty and exoticism of their offerings, and they competed with other zoos, even to the point of keeping animal care regimens secret.45 By the middle of the twentieth century, conservation emerged as a more consistent concern, and zoos were coming under fire for animal exploitation and poor conditions.46 By the late twentieth century, zoos had brought conservation fully into their remit, including cooperating to serve as genetic reservoirs for endangered species, sharing information and resources, and addressing conservation in exhibits and mission statements.47
Both the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Aquarium of the Pacific’s work with otters is in line with these trends. Zoos and aquariums conduct conservation work both in situ and ex situ, in field sites.48 But aquariums, unlike zoos, often work closely with local wildlife officials too.49 The aquariums’ otter work involves housing a native (sub)species whose numbers have dwindled in the wild with the goals of educating the public and expanding the population, within the parameters of their own institutional mandates and constraints.50
As noted above, MBA has had ambitious otter conservation programs central to its mission since its inception. The Aquarium of the Pacific has also hosted otters since its earliest days. When it was founded in 1998, otters were not local to the immediate Southern California coastal area near Long Beach, due to the otter-free zone, though of course they were ecologically native to the area. The Aquarium of the Pacific immediately worked closely with MBA to host otters, offering housing and care for otters that could not live in the wild; this allowed the two institutions working together to care for more animals than MBA could alone. The Aquarium of the Pacific declared its first full summer in operation, 1999, to be “Sea Otter Summer,” with a full public relations blitz. Its charismatic otters were Monterey Bay transplants, young animals who were not suitable candidates for release into the wild and instead resided in the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Northern Pacific habitat (here Northern Pacific means essentially California and north, that is, the cooler water zone north of the warm-cold mixing in the ecotone that is the Southern California Bight). At least two of the otters were orphaned during El Niño storms in 1997 (rough water and wind can cause pups to get separated from mothers, and storms are a common cause of pup stranding).51 Given the timing, these young animals would not have been candidates for surrogacy, which did not begin until 2001.
One of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s otters, a young female aptly named Summer, featured in a heartbreaking and frankly bizarre Los Angeles Times article that accompanied the exhibition:
A little girl named Summer arrived in Long Beach last month with what sounds like a Hollywood crisis: a lousy fur coat, a weight problem and a dependency issue. Summer, an 11-month-old sea otter at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, also would be distressed to know she’s missing her spot in the limelight. This Saturday the aquarium will launch Sea Otter Summer, but the budding diva will be in rehab.52
Distressing anthropomorphism and peculiar pathologizing aside, the article paints a vivid picture of the struggles stranded otters and their human caregivers can face. When rescued by MBA, Summer’s caregivers hoped to rehabilitate her for release into the wild, but over time, she failed to thrive: her coat did not come in with sufficient thickness to keep her afloat and warm, which was evident when human handlers took her on daily ocean swims as part of rehabilitation efforts. (Otters’ coats are dense, and pups’ fur actually helps them float because of how it traps air, which saves their bodies energy. The drive to commodify this lustrous fur is what led otters to be hunted to near extinction.53) Summer did not gain sufficient weight, probably because of being chilled. And her “addiction” to suckling towels was an unfortunate effect of her separation from her mother when she was only one week old.54
Aquarium curators laid out a comprehensive plan of care for Summer. Her towel suckling appeared to be a core cause of her failure to thrive. Without otters to care for pups, human handlers gave otter pups towels to suckle, cuddle, and groom themselves with, “a replacement for their moms.” Handlers suspected the enthusiasm with which Summer took to snuggling and suckling towels was actually damaging her fur; according to laboratory analysis of her pelt, the fibers were twisted and damaged. So in addition to continuing to trying to get her weight up through attentive feeding, caregivers weaned the pup off towels: she went from one per hour to two per day, with the goal of being able to comfortably give them up entirely. Her handler said: “The rewards of the job are similar to those of parenting[.] I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the otters hit certain milestones. I also think it’s a responsible act. Summer couldn’t survive in the ocean, but she’s healthy. Why not give her a good life, while educating the public and us about how otters live so we can use the knowledge to help the environment?”55
Summer lived another eleven years at the Aquarium of the Pacific, though she never fully recovered from the health issues she experienced as a pup. Aquarium staff tried to diagnose and cure Summer, unsuccessfully; veterinary dermapathologists suspected her fur and thermoregulation issues perhaps ultimately derived from an immune-mediated condition, similar to an autoimmune disease in humans.56 The causes of autoimmune disease are complex, but exposures to toxins are strong possibilities; effects of chemical violence are not necessarily immediate, even leading to epigenetic harms.57 In spite of Summer’s health problems, aquarium officials stated that she had led a “relatively healthy and apparently happy” life with her exhibit-mates at the Aquarium of the Pacific, until reaching a more advanced age when her health declined again, leading to compromised organ function. They determined that euthanasia was the most humane course, but Summer died on her own hours before the planned procedure, in September 2010.58 Twelve years is a somewhat shorter lifespan than might be expected for a female otter in captivity, though not dramatically so. Her loss was mourned by aquarium staff and caregivers, many of whom had known her since her arrival.
Around the time of Summer’s death in 2010, the Aquarium of the Pacific opened a new animal care facility. The 14,000-square-foot facility was unusual in one main regard: it included a large room for veterinary exams open to the public (through a pane of glass). On most days, aquarium staff perform veterinary exams and medical procedures on aquarium animals, in public view, with either a staff interpreter out in front of the window or one inside who explains what staff are doing over a public address system for viewers outside. Simulations of veterinary procedures are on display even when the aquarium is closed.
One day in September 2019, two otter dental procedures were listed on a whiteboard: a root canal for Betty, age seven, and a tooth extraction for Maggie, age seventeen.59 A curator said that there is treatment activity on public view at least a couple of days per week, and that the facility conducts nearly every procedure in public view (exceptions might be if no interpretive staff were available to narrate, or in case of a high-stakes procedure where the patient might be in danger of “crashing,” in which case blinds would be drawn). An adult sea otter would get at least one exam per year, including blood draws, x-rays, and an ultrasound, all during regular business hours in full public view.60 The aquarium holds around 11,000 animals (fish, reptiles, mammals, birds), so there is a lot of opportunity for routine exams that can double as public programming.61 While the Aquarium of the Pacific’s public viewing facility was novel at the time it was introduced, more and more facilities like it are being built; it is a trend that promotes public understanding of and transparency about the institution’s activities.62 (Though the curator did not spell this out, it also helps communicate to the public the expense associated with so much care for so many animals.) At the same time, the procedures with the aquarium’s actual living animals, and especially the use of plush children’s toys to stand in for wildlife, arguably domesticate these creatures, blurring boundaries. These spectacles also normalize “nature” in human care, or even on life support. Though managers act in pursuit of “autonomy” for wild animals, this state is “deferred and impossible to achieve,” requiring dependence (especially in the case of highly managed creatures at the edge of extinction).63 This has potential implications for how the aquarium’s audience relates to these animals in the aquarium as well as outside of it.
As of 2020, the Aquarium of the Pacific could house up to six adult otters comfortably, but it was expanding its capacity in order to implement a surrogacy program. The agreement the Aquarium of the Pacific formalized with MBA in early 2020 solidified a commitment to create the conditions to be able to add as many as five adult females who could nurture and socialize pups. As many as ten to fifteen stranded southern sea otter pups are discovered annually in California, so this would add significant capacity for otter care. Like Summer, all stranded pups will first go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for around eight weeks, and then some will move to Long Beach for longer-term rearing (six to seven months), learning to groom and feed and act like “regular” sea otters.64 If a pup does well with its surrogate mother in the Aquarium of the Pacific, it will return to MBA for another month or two to socialize with peers, and then, assuming it is deemed fit, it will be released into the wild. Released young adults will be radiotagged with VHF transmitters and trackable for up to three years; scientists will no longer be able to track the otters once the transmitters’ batteries die, though the tracking devices will remain in the animals for the rest of their lives.
Sea otters come ashore rarely and can perform all essential life functions at sea, including sleeping and giving birth. Charismatic representations of them often feature a mother and pup afloat in a kelp bed.65 The otters of the Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as many other creatures, live in marine water that approximates their oceanic habitats. The aquarium’s water supply therefore is a life-sustaining consideration of major consequence for the institution and its residents. It is sourced from the harbor just outside the aquarium’s door, processed by a company that also supplies water to other aquariums and marine science facilities throughout the western United States and for which the Aquarium of the Pacific is a major customer.
Founded in 1988, Catalina Water Company commodifies a naturally occurring substance, ocean water.66 In claiming water as a resource, processing it, and selling it, the company provides an environment to sustain ocean life in circumstances where it would not be found otherwise: in conditions of captivity and often in geographic locales far from the species’ native environments. Tropical fish in home or institutional aquariums, otters in conservation programs, jellyfish in veterinary care, and mollusks in neuroscience research settings may all find themselves swimming in this water (or, in the case of mollusks, anchored in it). Commodification of ocean water is driven by the commercial trade of tropical fish: “The aquarium hobby could never have become what it is today without the business interests that were, and still are, involved.”67 Recent estimates are that 25–30 million animals from more than 2,000 species are traded annually, including fish and corals; animals are imported from the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Australia, Fiji, the Maldives, and Palau, especially richly biodiverse reef ecologies; and domestic fish outnumber pet cats and dogs in both the United States and United Kingdom.68 Most collectible animals are taken from the wild, and many marine species’ needs for breeding in captivity are poorly understood.69 Of course, this practice of removing animals from oceans for global hobbyist trade has ecological implications in their sites of origin. These accumulating environmental injuries are not the main focus here but bear notice as a significant effect of the commodification of marine life and seawater.70
Unsurprisingly, supplying conditions for marine life, let alone healthy marine life, is challenging. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s water comes from the Pacific Ocean via Catalina Water Company, but another option for coastal aquariums is building a water intake system with pipes going out into the sea to take in and discharge water. (A curator at the Aquarium of the Pacific speculated that this would be hard to gain approval for in California’s present-day regulatory environment.71) Facilities that are not coastally located are more likely to manufacture their water, mixing salt and fresh water. Catalina Water Company touts its product by stating, “All synthetic salt mixtures have one thing in common. They are attempting to duplicate real saltwater. Catalina Water Company provides real ocean salt- water, not a synthetic substitute. Synthetic Saltwater, while being basically sound, simply can not provide all the subtle chemical benefits of true saltwater.” The volume of water that the company sells for simulated ocean environments is at least ten million gallons per year.72 The Aquarium of the Pacific is a major client and takes several deliveries per week; its biggest tank, as of 2012, was a 56,000-gallon quarantine tank, part of the Molina Care Center, a holding tank for large animals that need to be kept separately.73 Deliveries of fresh ocean water at the scale needed by aquariums are delivered via truck in food-grade stainless steel tankers. Catalina Water Company also sells packaged seawater for home aquarium use through the PetCo pet store chain.74
The quarantine tank leads toward a further consideration of the water itself. To become commodified, seawater must be processed. Catalina Water Company notes on its website that it “starts with natural ocean sea- water which is filtered, (fiber, sand, and charcoal) ozonated, and protein skimmed.”75 Before using the water for its marine life, the Aquarium of the Pacific also runs its own tests to make sure it is safe for the animals, and filters it again.76 The 1999 Los Angeles Times article about Summer the pup also offers details about how seriously the Aquarium of the Pacific takes its marine environment: “Before he climbs the metal ladder to the access door of Summer’s tank, [Summer’s handler] steps in two bins of liquid, one containing water and one a disinfectant. He’ll step in them again when he leaves. ‘We’re fussy about quarantine here,’ he explains. ‘I don’t want to take any germs into her habitat or out to the rest of the aquarium.’”77 Of course, extra precautions are indeed necessary for public health in congregate settings (as the COVID-19 pandemic recently showed when the virus cut a tragic, lethal, and preventable path through prisons and elder care facilities).
But this attention to hygiene, water filtration, and monitoring in the aquarium setting exposes an irony. Otters and other life-forms under custodial care of the aquarium are provided cleaner and safer water than their counterparts in the wild. As noted at the outset of this chapter, worries of otter annihilation in the wake of an oil discharge prompted conservation efforts in the 1980s, leading to, among other developments, the otter relocation to San Nicolas Island. The rationale was not only to prompt the settlement of a new territory but to have a population reservoir in a more protected locale, less vulnerable to spills than the near-coastal area the otters inhabited. And spilled oil is not the only source of chemical harm for otters: industrial agricultural fertilizers and other contaminants wash into the ocean from land, bringing toxins that can sicken and even kill marine otters.78 Toxins should thus not be understood as mere “wayward molecules”: they are substances whose patterned presences in land, water, and bodies are indicative of particular political and economic relations.79
35) Sterngold, “Long Beach.” His statement is about Long Beach generally but it fits the waterfront area well.
36) As of 2020, parts of the carousel and vestigial Pike games are on display at Looff ’ Lite- A- Line on Long Beach Boulevard.
37) The Queen Mary docked permanently in Long Beach in 1967. Th e Spruce Goose was housed there only from 1980– 92, but its dome remains and is currently used as Carnival Cruise Lines’ dockside cruise terminal.
38) Kopetman, “Spruce Goose to Be Moved.”
39) Addison, “Long Beach Lost.”
40) Various factors were responsible. Disney requested things the City of Long Beach was unable to deliver single- handedly, like highway modifi cations. Addison, “Long Beach Lost,” notes that Long Beach was hard to build in both politically and financially since local, state, and federal approvals were all required; Disney instead reinvested in and expanded its Anaheim (Orange County) operations.
41) Sterngold, “Long Beach.”
42) Johnson, “Long Beach, Calif., Gets a Boost.” Th e “tidelands grant” the state issued the city to develop the harbor stipulated that revenue from oil profi ts drilled from the Wilmington and Long Beach oil fi elds, located in the tidelands, be reinvested in the tidelands area (and overseen by the state).
43) Kingsley, “Aquarium of the Pacific Turns 20 Today.”
44) Young, “Zoos and Aquariums.”
45) Henson, “American Zoos,” 65, 70, 66.
46) Young, “Zoos and Aquariums”; Henson, “American Zoos,” 72.
48) Henson writes, “as ‘natural environments’ become more stressed through development and climate change, the line has become blurred between ex situ, orzoo- and aquarium-based, research and conservation and in situ, or field-based, biological research and conservation practice” (“American Zoos,” 66); see especially Braverman, Wild Life, for more on this troubled boundary.
49) Muka, “Conservation Constellations.”
50) The California or southern sea otter is classified as a subspecies of an otter whose range used to be the entire Pacific coast from Baja California to Alaska. It is now only found from about Point Conception, just north and west of Santa Barbara, to San Francisco; in other words, just north of the Southern California Bight into which San Pedro Bay is nestled.
51) Morris, “Long Beach Aquarium.”
52) Jameson, “She’s One Happy Pup.”
53) Further north in the Pacific Northwest, Russian traders established a sea otter fur trade with China in the mid- eighteenth century (Gibson, Otter Skins, Boston Ships, and China Goods). Otter hunting in fact drew Russians eastward fromSiberia. Spanish colonists in California did not initially recognize the value of otter pelts in “their” territories but soon also entered the otter fur trade with China, and these otters were members of the southern or California sea otter subspecies.
In both cases, Indigenous people also participated in these markets as hunters, though they oft en were resistant to hunting on the scale desired by merchants (Ogden, California Sea Otter Trade, 1784–1848, 43). Overhunting of otters is part of what pushed American maritime traders toward beavers in the nineteenth century (Gibson, Otter Skins, Boston Ships, and China Goods).
54) Jameson, “She’s One Happy Pup.”
55) Jameson. Th e journalist noted that the handler was himself a father of two, tying his parental duties with the otter to those with his human young.
56) Segura, “Long Beach Aquarium’s Beloved Otter Dies.” In humans, poisons like PCBs and dioxin have been detected in blood, breast milk, and urine (Murphy, “Alterlife,” 495).
57) Murphy invokes a stencil by Métis artist and activist Erin Marie Konsmo depicting lungs filled with transformer towers connecting to underground fracking, accompanied by the statement “Violence from Fracking [and Pipelines] is Violence on Our Bodies” (“Alterlife,” 500– 501). Though the image depicts human lungs, the statement fits animal bodies as well—though chemical violence is not limited to fossil fuels, of course. See also Fiske, “Naked in the Face of Contamination”; Tuana, “Viscous Porosity.”
60) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020.
61) Aquarium of the Pacific, “Aquarium Animal Care.”
62) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020.
63) Parreñas, Decolonizing Extinction, 155; van Dooren, Flight Ways.
64) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020.
65) Mothers will even wrap pups in kelp to hold them in place and keep them afloat while they go off to forage (e.g. Kranking, “Floating through Life”).
66) The company is presumably named for the island that Spanish settlers dubbed Santa Catalina, one of the Channel Islands, just off shore from Los Angeles and Long Beach. It hosts tourism and marine research, and its rock is the source material for many modifications in San Pedro Bay.
67) Brunner, Ocean at Home, 140– 41.
68) Brunner, “Through a Glass Sadly.”
69) Brunner, Ocean at Home, 141. This is probably less a function of breeding being impossible to do and more that there is little profit motive to attempt it.
70) Brunner notes that only one in ten fi sh caught for aquarium trade survives the shipping and trade process and ends up in a hobby tank (“Through a Glass Sadly”). Toxic injury is also relevant here: Brunner adds that poisons are sometimes used in the water to numb or stun fish and make them easier to capture, and excess poison remains in the water after stunned fish are captured. The habitat effects call to mind Nixon’s description of “delayed destruction” (Slow Violence, 2; see also Neimanis, “‘Chemists’ War’”)
71) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020. The curator added that Monterey Bay Aquarium, built in the 1980s, has such a system.
72) Catalina Water Company, homepage.
73) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020; Aquarium of the Pacific, “Molina Animal Care Center.”
74) Catalina Water Company, homepage.
75) Catalina Water Company, homepage. Punctuation per original.
76) Aquarium of the Pacific curator, interview, December 7, 2020.
77) Jameson, “She’s One Happy Pup.”
78) Aquarium of the Pacific, “Sea Otter Conservation.” Parasites can also wash out from land.
79) Liboiron, Pollution Is Colonialism, 82; Murphy, “Alterlife.”
Addison, Brian. “Long Beach Lost: The Dramatic Tale of the Disney Theme Park in Downtown.” Long Beach Post, December 4, 2018.
Henson, Pamela M. “American Zoos: A Shift ing Balance between Recreation and Conservation.” In Th e Ark and Beyond: Th e Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation, ed. Ben Minteer, Jane Maienschein, and James P. Collins, 65–76. Chicago, University of Chicago Press: 2018.
Jameson, Marnell. “She’s One Happy Pup: A Young Otter Name [sic] Summer Once Faced Certain Death, but Today Is Safe, Warm and Getting a Good, if Soggy, Education.” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1999.
Kingsley, Barbara. “Aquarium of the Pacific Turns 20 Today, Hopes to Make a Splash When Pacific Visions Opens in 2019.” Daily Breeze, June 15, 2018.
Kopetman, Roxana. “Spruce Goose to Be Moved to Oregon.” Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1992.
Morris, Asia. “Long Beach Aquarium Mourns the Loss of Brook the Sea Otter.” Long Beach Post, January 30, 2019.
Muka, Samantha. “Conservation Constellations: Aquariums in Aquatic Conservation Networks.” In The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation, ed. Ben Minteer, Jane Maienschein, and James P. Collins, 90– 103. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
Sterngold, James. “Long Beach, in Los Angeles’ Shadow, Strives for a Spotlight.” New York Times, July 27, 2000, A14.
Christina Dunbar-Hester is a science and technology studies scholar and associate professor in the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. She is the author of Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism and Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures.