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The problem with wilderness

The American environmental movement is rooted historically in ideas about pristine wilderness, free from human presence, that replicate colonial patterns of white supremacy and settler privilege. Native-led movements are changing the script.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker | 3/1/2020 | Spring 2020
Oil painting 'Indians in Council, California', by Albert Bierstadt, 1872. Dark night scene, people in foreground and mountain in background.

Indians in Council, California, by Albert Bierstadt, 1872; oil on canvas (Smithsonian American Art Museum). Bierstadt spent two years in California in the early 1870s, sketching the landscape of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, as white settlers were driving Indians off the land. Yosemite was made a state park in 1864 and a national park in 1890.