Catron County Attorney James Catron may be correct when he asserts that "he and Catron County residents personify the frontier ethic portrayed by James Fenimore Cooper" (HCN, 6/24/96), but is he aware that Cooper despised frontiersmen and their "ethic'?
In The Pioneers, the 18th century settlers' only "ethic" is the myth of superabundance; consequently they resourcefully waste the American wilderness.
Cooper never made up his mind whether he was an early-day Gifford Pinchot (Judge Temple), a conservationist advocating wise use (in the Progressive Era sense of that term), or an early-day John Muir (Natty Bumppo), a preservationist cherishing the wilderness for its aesthetic and spiritual qualities.
But in none of those roles would he be happy, or welcome, in Catron County today.
Nelson Van Valen
Belen, New Mexico
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