Image - Robert Aquinas McNally and detail from book cover
San Francisco

The Untold Story of John Muir, Indigenous Peoples, and the American Wilderness

Buy Tickets

If you are not a member yet, now is the time to join our community and receive the great benefits of membership. We are a group of people seeking truth, insight and wisdom about the issues we face as individuals and as a society. Please join! You can become a monthly sustaining member for just $10 a month.

John Muir is widely and rightly lauded as the nature mystic who added wilderness to the United States’ vision of itself, largely through the system of national parks and wild areas his writings and public advocacy helped create. Critics say that vision, however, came at a cost: the conquest and dispossession of the tribal peoples who had inhabited and managed those same lands, in many cases for millennia. Muir argued for the preservation of wild sanctuaries that would offer spiritual enlightenment to the conquerors, not to the conquered Indigenous peoples who had once lived there. “Somehow,” he wrote, “they seemed to have no right place in the landscape.”

Cast Out of Eden tells this neglected part of Muir’s story—from Lowland Scotland and the Wisconsin frontier to the Sierra Nevada’s granite heights and Alaska’s glacial fjords—and his take on the tribal nations he encountered and embrace of an ethos that forced those tribes from their homelands. Although Muir questioned and worked against Euro-Americans’ distrust of wild spaces and deep-seated desire to tame and exploit them, his view excluded Native Americans as fallen peoples who stained the wilderness’s pristine sanctity. Fortunately, in a transformation that a resurrected and updated Muir might approve, this long-standing injustice is beginning to be undone, as Indigenous nations and the federal government work together to ensure that quintessentially American lands from Bears Ears to Yosemite serve all Americans equally.

MLF Organizer
Andrew Dudley

This program is in-person only.

If you have symptoms of illness (coughing, fever, etc.), we ask that you either stay home or wear a mask. Our front desk has complimentary masks for members and guests who would like one.

The Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California is a nonprofit public forum; we welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our programming.

A People & Nature Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Bernard Osher Foundation

Photos courtesy the speakers.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Wed, Jul 24 / 5:30 PM PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Robert Aquinas McNally

Robert Aquinas McNally

Author, Cast Out of Eden: The Untold Story of John Muir, Indigenous Peoples, and the American Wilderness

Image - Andrew Dudley

Andrew Dudley

Co-host and Producer, Earth Live; Chair, People & Nature Member-led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California—Moderator


5 p.m. doors open & check-in
5:30–6:30 p.m program
6:30 p.m. book signing
(all times Pacific Time)


Members receive 30–50 percent discounts (not a member? Join)

$55 with a book