American Indians, Teddy Roosevelt, the National Parks, and Racism
March 22, 2019 12:45 PM   Subscribe

2019 marks 100 years since Theodore Roosevelt's death, and with it, remembrances for his achievements (History | Mystery Stream), including "his commitment to and advocacy of conservation of the environment." Beyond the conservation versus preservation debate that predates U.S. National Parks (USDA.gov), there's the complicated of the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and the Indians (Native American Netroots), most damning being his statement that "The truth is, the Indians never had any real title to the soil." Nowhere is this more apparent than the creation of the Grand Canyon National Park, and the exclusion of the Havasupai who inhabited the area (N.A.N.). More on this ugly past: Environmentalism’s Racist History (New Yorker).
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bonus reading: American Indians and National Parks (by Robert H. Keller and Michael F. Turek), which you can preview on Google books, where there are similar titles of interest, some of which are available as e-books.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:49 PM on March 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


Years ago, I listened to about half of an audiobook of Through the Brazilian Wilderness. I remember being confused by Roosevelt’s tone concerning the indigenous people. On one hand, he seem to admire them and wanted them to have at least a certain amount of self-determination, and, on the other, he seemed very dismissive. It was like he was constantly holding two views in his head.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:07 PM on March 22, 2019


If you read I Am The Grand Canyon, it covers this and other US takings of Havasupai lands.
posted by azpenguin at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Great post.
posted by spitbull at 2:12 PM on March 22, 2019


Years ago, I listened to about half of an audiobook of Through the Brazilian Wilderness. I remember being confused by Roosevelt’s tone concerning the indigenous people. On one hand, he seem to admire them and wanted them to have at least a certain amount of self-determination, and, on the other, he seemed very dismissive. It was like he was constantly holding two views in his head.

From my brief skim through his book The Winning of the West, which I linked to above for Teddy's quote that "the Indians never had any real title to the soil," it seems his issue is a very Randian one: the "Indians" didn't use the land. Hunter-gatherers aren't entitled to land, because they're not tilling soil or harvesting its bounty. Living off the lands means, to Teddy, that you don't have rights to the land.

In Teddy Roosevelt and the Indians, you see his dual views of native people as people, but people who often don't have rights to their historic lands. It's baffling, as if he takes a practical view of their humanity, possibly even romanticizing their Noble Savage past, but believing presently in the Manifest Destiny of Europeans in the U.S. Perhaps he had a bit of the Great White Father complex? That's implied in the title of The great white father listens : Theodore Roosevelt's and Francis Leupp's involvement in Hopi Indian affairs 1901-1913 (manuscript listed in Worldcat).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:55 PM on March 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


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