Sally Jewell: Let's celebrate Native contributions to conservation

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell met with youth from the Tohono O'odham Nation at Saguaro National Park in Arizona in November 2015. Photo from Twitter

Citing a recent experience with youth from the Tohono O'odham Nation, Secretary Sally Jewell vows to do more to include Native Americans as Interior Department charts out the next 100 years of conservation in the United States:
I’m also proud of the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. By providing every fourth grader in America with a free pass to visit our nation’s public lands and waters with their families, we’re breaking down barriers that can keep underserved communities from discovering the great outdoors.

Some of my favorite moments in this job have been handing out the passes — like to a fourth grade class of Native American students outside Tucson, Arizona. Along with several elders from the Tohono O’odham Nation, we took a hike in Saguaro National Park where we learned how the kids’ ancestors and the desert have co-existed for thousands of years. It was a magical experience.

I am committed to making sure that this program lasts long after I leave this office, so that 12 years from now, we’ll have a whole generation of students whose love for public lands was sparked in fourth grade.

We also need to ensure that when a diverse class of 4th graders does visit, that they see park rangers who look like them. Or talk to wildlife biologists who share their background. Or see signs in their first language.

Or, that they can visit a place that honors their heritage or culture.

US Department of the Interior on YouTube: Secretary Jewell on the Future of Conservation
People like César Chávez, Harriet Tubman and the Buffalo Soldiers now have their contributions to this country rightfully recognized through the national parks.

Just last week, President Obama acted again. In establishing the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, he honored a key chapter in the ongoing fight for political, social and economic equality.

Still, with only a sliver of national parks and historic sites focused on women, minorities and underrepresented communities, there’s more to be done. Right now, there’s not one national park or national monument focused on the struggle for LGBT rights. And we haven’t done enough to celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or Latinos, or Native Americans, or African Americans.

That needs to change, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to leave our national parks and public lands decisively more inclusive places than they were in 2009.

Get the Story:
Sally Jewell: The Next 100 Years of American Conservation (Medium 1/19)

Also Today:
National Parks Need a Big Shake-Up (National Geographic 4/19)
Ahead of Jewell visit to Utah, speculation about Bears Ears monument (The Salt Lake Tribune 4/19)
Interior Sec. Sally Jewell: Refuge Occupation Did Not Get Local Support (Oregon Public Broadcasting 4/19)
Jewell: ‘Major course correction’ needed on conservation (AP 4/19)

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