Troubling Origins of the US National Parks
In the U.S., the National Park system was part of a larger effort to relocate and remove Native Americans as suggested by historical evidence. It is a well-known historical fact that "Native people have deep ties to the greatest known parks — Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Mesa Verde, Everglades and many others." The tribes utilized their ancestral land for hunting, gathering, and cultural purposes. On the other hand, many people still consider these National Park, as a "gift" of the US government to its people. However, very few of them know that the government formed these parks by removing the natives "from their ancestral territories and pushing them onto much smaller reservations."
Thorough research has been carried out through numerous articles by historians, human right activists, and officials in order to search for the evidence in support of the hypothesis — "Troubling Origins of the US National Parks." A deep dive into the research is presented below.
AMERICAN NATIONAL PARKS — A STOLEN GIFT
On August 27, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson initiated the National Park Service by forming a bureau in the Department of Interiors. This is only one side of the story. The other side of the story presents a gloomy picture of the stolen gift presented to the American people in the name of National Parks. The word "stolen" is used here, because the National Parks, in light of the topic, were once inhabited by the natives of America, called the Indian tribes, and the federal government simply ignored, invalidated, and overlooked the land rights of the Native Americans.
America's most beloved National Parks, which include "Glacier, Badlands, Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley, " were carved out of the lands where Native Americans once lived. The story of stealing the land of National Parks began with the Yellowstone Act of 1872, signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, whose political ambitions led him to steal over 2.2 million acres of Native American's land, to present it as a "gift" to the American public, thereby winning their trust. The act was passed quickly into the law but never became a part of the National debate, as most of the Americans were not aware of the land which was far away from them in the sprawling wilderness of the west. It is believed that more than 26 indigenous tribes inhabited the land, which is still considered sacred by them. Under the Yellowstone Act of 1872, the natives were declared as trespassers on their ancestral lands, and gave law enforcers permission to remove the "persons who shall locate or settle upon or occupy the same, or any part" of the land that now belonged to the National Parks.
From 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt served for the second term as the President of America (first in September 1901). His "seven and a half years in office were marked by his support of the Indian allotment system, the removal of Indians from their lands and the destruction of their culture."
THE FALSE HISTORY OF YELLOWSTONE
In the history of Native Americans of the Yellowstone, it is written that the natives had only marginal interest in the park's natural resources. They were also mentioned as "isolated band of Sheep Eaters" who are afraid of the hot geysers of the park, so they shied away from it, and had no further interest in the park. However, the reality suggests a different history that needs to be rewritten. The Yellowstone National Park has had direct cultural connections with the Paleo Indians for more than 10,000 years. Other tribes that share their cultural roots with the park include "plains tribes such as the Blackfeet, Crow, Mountain Shoshone (Sheep Eaters), Shoshone-Bannock, Flathead, and other tribal bands." The tribes used the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for hunting purposes; for gathering natural resources like, "Lodge-pole Pine (Pinus contorta) for tee pees, aspen, cottonwood, obsidian, various berry and root varieties, medicinal plants and thermal clay." They also had a spiritual connection with the mountains and natural features of the park. These pieces of evidence suggest that false history has been presented to the American public, regarding Native Americans and their habitat.
COLONIALISM IN THE NAME OF CONSERVATION
In 1851, during Mariposa War, California soldiers discovered the valley where the Ahwahneechee Indians resided. The native name of the region was Ahwahnee, which means the place with a "gaping-mouth." The soldiers violently expelled the Ahwanhneechee, and renamed the valley, "Yosemite." However, the Ahwanhneechee returned the Yosemite Valley and humiliated themselves with jobs designed to entertain the visitors and tourists by their cultural activities, in order to stay in their native land. In 1969, they were violently evicted from the region and their homes were burned down. Additionally, authorities stationed the United States Army at Yellowstone from 1886 to 1918 in order to violently displace indigenous people away from the park.
Historian Karl Jacoby told Huff Post "conservation is used as a tool of colonialism," to highlight the violent displacement of indigenous tribes to form National Parks in the name of conservation.
This displacement of indigenous tribes was a century-long affair. For example, in 1872, the Shoshone who resided in the Yellowstone were removed as per the treaty of 1868, which was never ratified by the US Congress; in 1895, citing the richness of natural resources in the Glacier Natural Park, the US government sent its official in the park to displace the Blackfeet with an offer of $1.5 million along with a permission to "hunt, gather and cut timber there"; in 1830, the Indians residing in the Everglades was forced to empty the land under the Indian Removal Act signed by the President Andrew Jackson.
In conclusion, the historical facts support a crystal clear evidence that the Native Americans had suffered violent displacement in the name of National Parks by the federal authorities for centuries. Additionally, the Americans have been presented with the false piece of evidence by the authorities that the Native Americans were just an isolated band of "Sheep Eaters" who had no interest in their native lands, so they left the land all by themselves. However, the true fact is that the "violent displacement" of the indigenous tribe is a century-long affair which was carried out in the greatest National Parks of the US, which includes the National Parks of "Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Mesa Verde, Everglades, and many others."