Pocket: From Yosemite to Bears Ears, Erasing Native Americans From U.S. National Parks

Immersed in the American West during the early 19th century, artist George Catlin made it his goal to capture idyllic scenes of nature, often featuring the frontier’s many Native American inhabitants. Catlin was concerned about the destruction white settlers would bring as they moved west. (However) the foundational myth of America’s National Parks revolves around the heroic preservation of “pristine wilderness,” places supposedly devoid of human inhabitants that were saved in an unaltered state for future generations. This is obviously a falsehood: Places like Yosemite were already home to thriving communities that had long cherished—and changed—the environment around them. As is common on interpretive material regarding Native Americans, the National Park Service’s pressure on indigenous people to relinquish access to their land is masked by a blameless narrative of “natural” population decline and economic shifts. Read ON.