The gift which keeps on giving has struck gold again.
Progressive activists are full of excellent ideas lately like “Abolish ICE,” “Defund the Police” and “trans women are women.” Some of their most recent hits include systematic racism and reparations for slavery and purging Donald Trump from the internet and neutering Mr. Potato Head and canceling the Washington Redskins and toppling statues of George Washington and dragging them in the dirt and policing the racial etiquette of cishet White males the New York Times newsroom.
It was only a matter of time before wokeness spilled over into environmental policy like it has crept into every other aspect of American life. The brilliant idea that these people have come up with this time is canceling the memory of John Muir, the Father of the National Parks, and dismantling the National Park System itself and returning the land to so-called “Native Americans.” You see it would be “white supremacy” to preserve the National Parks for the enjoyment of all Americans.
“I wanted to begin my journey at Theodore Roosevelt because no one embodies the tensions of the park system as it is currently constituted like the 26th president. Contained in the person of Roosevelt was a wild love for natural vistas and a propensity for violent imperialism; an overwhelming desire for freedom and a readiness to take it away from other people. Much of the park named after him exists on top of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) land. The MHA lost that land in 1851, with the signing of the first Treaty of Fort Laramie. Executive orders in 1870 and 1880 seized still more of the tribes’ homeland.
Roosevelt went to hunt bison in Dakota Territory in 1883. In 1884, when he was back home in New York, his wife gave birth to their daughter, Alice, but unbeknownst to her doctors, his wife had a kidney ailment, and died on Valentine’s Day that year. Teddy’s mother died the same day in the same house. After drawing a large X in his diary, Roosevelt wrote, “The light has gone out of my life.” He returned to the West and built a ranch outside Medora, intent on letting nature soothe him. He didn’t last long out there, and the West never became his permanent home, but it left a mark on him—and he, in turn, left his mark on it.
Roosevelt was familiar with Native Americans, having interacted with them when he was in Dakota Territory. “The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian,” he would say in an 1886 speech, during which he also famously declared: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”
Roosevelt’s attitude toward Indians is manifest in his treatment of the Apache leader Geronimo. Born in 1829, Geronimo lived the first three decades of his life in the peace and security of his Apache homelands, in what is now New Mexico and Arizona. In the second half of the 19th century, he rose to international fame for fighting the American and Mexican governments in an attempt to preserve his tribe’s piece of the Southwest. …
The American West began with war but concluded with parks. …
The personal failings of people like Roosevelt are still codified in American policy. A lack of access to land—and the lack of power that such access would confer—undergirds the social ills that affect many Native peoples. But, at least in some places, American attitudes are changing. And in the parks, policies are changing too, albeit slowly, and in piecemeal fashion. …
All 85 million acres of national-park sites should be turned over to a consortium of federally recognized tribes in the United States. (A few areas run by the National Park Service, such as the National Mall, would be excepted.) The total acreage would not quite make up for the General Allotment Act, which robbed us of 90 million acres, but it would ensure that we have unfettered access to our tribal homelands. And it would restore dignity that was rightfully ours. To be entrusted with the stewardship of America’s most precious landscapes would be a deeply meaningful form of restitution. Alongside the feelings of awe that Americans experience while contemplating the god-rock of Yosemite and other places like it, we could take inspiration in having done right by one another.
Placing these lands under collective Native control would be good not just for Natives, but for the parks as well. In addition to our deep and abiding reverence for wild spaces, tribes have a long history of administering to widely dispersed holdings and dealing with layers of bureaucracy. Many reservations are checkerboarded: Large parcels of reservation land are scattered and separated from one another. And much of the land within reservation boundaries is owned by a number of different interests—private, nontribal citizens; corporations; states; the federal government—that tribal leadership balances and accommodates. Through hard practice—and in the face of centuries of legal, political, and physical struggle—Indian communities have become adept at the art of governance. And tribes have a hard-earned understanding of the ways in which land empowers the people it sustains.
Transferring the parks to the tribes would protect them from partisan back-and-forth in Washington. And the transfer should be subject to binding covenants guaranteeing a standard of conservation that is at least as stringent as what the park system enforces today, so that the parks’ ecological health would be preserved—and improved—long into the future. The federal government should continue to offer some financial support for park maintenance, in order to keep fees low for visitors, and the tribes would continue to allow universal access to the parks in perpetuity. Bikers and toddlers, Instagram models and Tony Hawk—all would be welcome. We would govern these beautiful places for ourselves, but also for all Americans. …
More than just America’s “best idea,” the parks are the best of America, the jewels of its landscape. It’s time they were returned to America’s original peoples.”
This is the author David Treuer.
He is a transracial member of the Ojibwe tribe.
America’s National Parks should be turned over to Native Americans like him and Elizabeth Warren. David Treuer’s father was an Austrian Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, but we are squatting on 90 million acres of stolen land which rightfully belongs America’s original people like him, not to our country.
It goes without saying that The Atlantic is run by the Jews these days and has become a fountain of Jewish chutzpah like this. This is setting an all-time record though.
Earlier this year, the paleocons were pining for a new Bull Moose and for conservatives to have a message on the environment. Defending the National Parks from these people is the perfect message for the “populist conservatism” and “new nationalism” that they are trying to launch.