ETH 221: There's No Such Thing as Wilderness: An Alternate History of the National Park Service
Historian Mark David Spence is the author of “Dispossessing the Wilderness”, which explores the often obscured history of the forced removal of Native Americans from the landscapes that would become our first national parks. Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks were inhabited landscapes before white settlers arrived and were awestruck by the scenic majesty of these places. Spence’s work shows how the history of the National Park Service is intertwined with the history of the reservation system and our nation’s shameful history of Native American oppression and genocide.In our conversation, Spence discusses his research process for the book as well as the hurdles he encountered from Park Service historians and archivists. He also talks about his love for National Parks, and how he is able to continue to enjoy spending time in these magical places even after being exposed to their brutal and oppressive history.