Happy retirement to ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, age 100!
In the 19th century, the USA government depended on expeditions made up of surveyors, photographers and artists to document the vast western reaches of the new nation. Subsequently, Congress got a sense of the country viewing photographs and sketches of the picturesque landscapes. Yet it would be the monumental painting of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Hudson River School painter, Thomas Moran (1837‒1926) painted in 1872 that would move Congress to set aside designated public lands (see below).
The result is the nascent National Park System of national treasures for future generations, the first of its kind in the world, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. The fledgling new nation likely adopted from First Peoples’ Nations, consciously or unconsciously, the concept of stewardship of the land for future generations.
According to the park’s website, Yellowstone is located at the point of convergence of the Great Plains, Great Basin, and Columbia Plateau where 27 Native American Tribes have historic and modern connections to the land and its resources. For over 10,000 years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans lived, hunted, fished, gathered plants, quarried obsidian, and used thermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.
In meeting the challenge of climate change, the USA has a longstanding heritage in restoring an emerging attitude grounded in what David Orr (1992) sees as ecoliteracy – the ability to “observe nature with insight resulting in a merger of landscape and mindscape” (pp. 85–87). When you marvel of Yellowstone’s role as one of the last and largest nearly intact natural ecosystems on the planet, its thousands of hydrothermal sites and active geysers, adds to its natural wonder at Yellowstone and any number of the many national parks’ pristine vistas.
We could all do well to follow in the footsteps an inspirational advocate for the parks the behalf of us all–ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who retired yesterday at age 100—thank you Betty!
Thomas Moran Painting Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone completed and displayed to Congress in 1872. Thomas Moran Oil on canvas mounted on aluminum. H 213, W 266.3 cm Department of the Interior Museum. Check the museum website for its reopening to the public and go see this amazing exhibit.