As I continue working on the religious history of Yellowstone National Park, I have considerable ambivalence about Horace Albright. On the one hand, he is a much lauded figure in national parks history, to some degree the brains behind the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916 and an early leader of the agency […]
National Park Service
The National Park Service’s management of nature offers America’s wild places as contrived experiences to meet the spiritual expectations of the consumer public.
John (Fire) Lame Deer’s essay about the 1970 occupation of Mount Rushmore highlights a monumental clash between two visions of sacred land.
San Antonio, Texas, boasts a magnificent World Heritage treasure in their Spanish colonial missions. These places serve both religious purposes and tourist pleasures. Which raises the question, are the San Antonio missions sacred or secular? ♨
Spirituality and the State by Kerry Mitchell examines state power through a lens of “spirituality” in America’s national parks. This book shows how affection for parklands relies on a love of nature which is also a love of oneself and of one’s nation. Though intellectually engaging, Mitchell grounds his analysis in stories of people enjoying national parks. ♨
In recent years the National Park Service has begun engaging the diverse peoples of America to tell a more inclusive story of our national heritage. This more inclusive tale allows us to envision a nation that honors the strength and wisdom of our differences. ♨
Voters seem much more in agreement about national parks than just about anything else, but the politics of funding our parks have left them with an enormous backlog of “deferred maintenance.” As a nation we have not been very good at putting our money where our mouth is. The immeasurable value of national parks, though, more than justifies an investment in their future.
Natural Bridge in Virginia may be America’s first natural feature promoted as a tourist destination. Thomas Jefferson characterized Natural Bridge as “the most sublime of Nature’s works,” and now it is recognized as an affiliate site of the National Park Service.
Can we move away from the master narratives of white privilege in our parks? Can we begin thinking of our park system as places of reconciliation? Can they become spaces for listening to what the myriad voices—human, natural, spiritual—have to teach us? Can we move from narratives of conquest to queries of connectiveness?
National parks are popular destinations on many travelers’ bucket lists. It seems that everyone who has been to a national park has a secret desire, or sometimes a very public intention, to visit every national park. All 59 of them, from Acadia to American Samoa, from Gates of the Arctic to Virgin Islands, and all […]