The paper “ Dispossessing the Wilderness - Yosemite Indians and the National Park Ideal" is a meaningful example of a term paper on environmental studies. Wilderness is the natural environment that has not been tampered with by human activities like constructions, modernizations, and overexploitation. For the existence of a wilderness, human actions towards the environment should be conscious and focused, individuals inhabiting a locality should have an insight into the essence to control their actions towards the environment for the purpose of the future generation. The Yosemite Indians natively owned Yosemite before the Americans displaced them and created the Yosemite national park.
The area currently owned by Yosemite national park was once inhabited by American Indian before their relocation. Although they left behind a rich history, in the aftermath of the gold rush the first contact between the Yosemite and the whites took place as miners invaded the central Sierra Nevada (Spence 57). A series of violent conflicts between the whites and the displaced Indians erupted, which lead to the discovery of Yosemite Valley. Numerous efforts to remove the Indians from the region failed, after a while, Yosemite’ s developed an accommodating relationship with minors.
Yosemite became a cultural island, and it remained so for a long time. During spring, Indians moved to the valley to harvest acorn crop, a few weeks later they will clear the virgin land by burning bushes in order to plant more acorn and sweet potatoes. Yosemite started to receive its first lot of tourist in the year 1855, Yosemite fame grew, and it received an increasing number of tourists and tourist facilities rapidly expanded.
In 1864 president Lincoln signed Yosemite park act, all along this period, Yosemite Valley remained on fairly good terms with new neighbors as they earned new employment in the parks. Culture blending took roots as native groups struggled to survive the impact of American settlements who were completely crushing their lifestyle; the tourist economy was not also left behind as the Indian presence in the valley largely depended upon their ability to gain jobs in the park. Many Indians found themselves working for the whites as manual laborers, they also engaged in activities like basketry, dancing for tourists in order to raise their income.
Indians became an important part of the Yosemite experience for tourists by the end of the century and vice versa. Eight years after President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Park Act, Indians removal was implemented at Yellowstone, which received a negative reaction. In the summer of 1880, Superintendent Philetus W. Norris personally negotiated treaties with two Indian groups convincing them to recognize Yellowstone as a national park. Though after the demise of Californian reservation system in the 1850s, there was no parcel of land they could be restricted, inadequate administration of the park leads to the absence of policy towards Indians.
The exclusion of Indians from Yellowstone alleviated fears of Indians frightening potential visitors. By the1890s park officials got more worried with the presence of Indian within a nature preserve not only by scaring the tourists but also by them being harmful to the wilderness and most likely to pass these culture into the American society. Captain Moses argued that the continuous presence of Indians in their former wilderness hunts will render them uncivilized.
Jackson noted that the Indian activities were degrading the environment and they were not in a position to see and appreciate nature surrounding them. Park policies begun to set up, and there was more concern about Indians moral rights. The late 1880s the headmen of Yosemite petitioned and demanded to be compensated a million dollars from the federal government in exchange to relinquish their natural right, as well as title to Yosemite Valley and the surrounding. In 1890 Yosemite national park was created with established policies by the state to preserve fauna and flora around the park.
The new restrictions reflected a mindset that inspired the creation of glacier national park. Years later, the United States purchased the mountainous portion of the Blackfeet reservation. With time, the valley became part of the larger national park, and the federal official took a more active interest in Yosemite Indian community and increased restrictive measures. Unlike the Blackfeet and other tripe’ s, Yosemite did not sign any treaties; and hence, no official relationship with the federal government.
Events were organized in a way to encourage Indians to conform to the new culture. Despite this encroachment into the lives of Indians, the Yosemite Indians successfully adapted to changing conditions of the park. A new village was set up in the park, in the fall of 1927service park conducted Indian village consensus to determine those legible to live in the village. Those who qualified had to accept some terms and conditions. With time, some Indians got absorbed into towns, and they started a new life after they fully lost their control on the park employment.
In conclusion, these brief history exposes the struggle it takes to conserve nature and the numerous obstacles that lie on the way. Yosemite national park was originally owned by Yosemite Indians who were displaced by Americans, and thereafter saved from human degradation and encroachment.