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national parks indigenous peoples

What you Should Know Before you Visit Another National Park

by Danica Cotov


Growing up, I spent every summer traveling across the U.S. with my family. We camped, hiked, and explored as many National Parks as possible; it was the classic American road trip, minus the RV.

Trekking up seemingly endless plateaus in the unforgiving Arizona desert, trudging against powerful currents in the submerged dark canyons of Utah, and climbing slick boulders on Hawaii’s jagged coast, I felt free. I experienced a sense of belonging that I had yet to feel amongst peers. I was convinced I was a transcendentalist born too late.

As “Father of the National Parks,” I admired John Muir. A naturalist, conversationalist, and author, he put words to the emotions I felt. In Our National Parks, he wrote:

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”[1] 

The mountains, the valleys, the coastlands, they were all my “home.” But what I didn’t realize at the time was that in order for them to become my home, thousands of people had to be kicked out of theirs.

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