A Place called the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has always held a wondrous piece of my mind. As one of the great wonders of the world, this area demands such excitability and the yearning to learn more about it. Not until I completed this book did I have any notion that the Grand Canyon had such historical significance. With the knowledge I have gained from this review, I have formulated a completely new attitude toward, “ A Place called the Grand Canyon.” Advantageous to the reader, Morehouse begins with background information on cultural and physical characteristics. She starts in by describing the different Indian tribes that were present during the time of Spanish settlement. Landless people on the East coast began moving west and along with them came hints of competition which would soon characterize this area. Through government politics, United States officials easily took control of the land. They claimed it as unused terrain. Mormons seeking religious freedom also exploited Indian populations be using them as a labor source. In 1863, the Arizona Territory Bill was signed and as the Civil War came to a head, large scale businesses used the Bill as a ticket for Western opportunity. Early explorers, surveyors, scientists, and military expeditions soon settled in the region to secure Western possessions. It was during this time that Indian tribes, such as the Navajo, announced their discontent about insufficient amounts of land. This westward expansion began to alarm the upcoming field of environmental preservationists. However, the exploitation of resources such as timber, were seen as financial assets too great to be denied. Transportation of such goods, as Morehouse puts it, was “the cause of great distress on Grand Canyon areas” as the construction of railroads disrupted Indian reservations. The author notes this as the beginning of commercialization of the region. Now that transportation was available, nature tourism was on the rise. Concerns of this issue motivated initiations to preserve land. On a federal level, Stephen T. Mather, an established conservationist, aided to the designation of lands as national forests and founded the United States Forest Service. Together with Horace Albright, another esteemed preservationist, Mather was able to construct the National Park Service. Journalists such as John Wesley Powell and John Muir began educating the public on benefits to preservation. Further research done on the subject proposed the discontinuation of activities in the area as they were detrimental and resulted in destruction. President Roosevelt’s proclamation of a Grand Canyon National Movement was seen as a strong effort to halt further depletion. With recognition on a federal level, the region was receiving financial, political, and scientific conditions suitable for the establishment of a National Park. Initial recommendations for the National Park faced difficulties as local ranchers, loggers and hunters protested against it. Lack of support from local public government made Congress question its significance. One major step toward advancement was the granting of statehood to Arizona. Congressman Carl Hayden felt a national park within the state would promote the state. With tourism and commercialization reaching a climax, the erection of a national park was now becoming a necessity. Unofficial boundaries were installed and Mather, who had been familiarized with advertisement through his own business, handled promotions for the park. In 1919, official boundaries were set and limits were placed on resource and land use. Around the time of recession, new advancements began to strengthen the park. Committees such as the President’s Committee on Outdoor Recreation and the Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests offered the idea of natural boundaries. These boundaries would never change and took into account wildlife areas, forest and economic resources in the area. The boundaries were presented by Park Superintendent John R. Eakin to the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce which approved them after seeing no opposition from local people. In a time of national repression, park employment was on the rise. Preservation became an important issue and according to John Merriam, paleontologist that headed the Carnegie Institution, national parks were ideal areas for studying different species and their habitats. Further research found expansions to complicate matters worse by subtracting from hunting zones and Indian reserves. In light of Indian unrest, Secretary of the Interior Conrad Wirth, proposed the naming of scenic views as a monument which avoided restrictions of a national park. Disputes on this proposal went as far as President Roosevelt who vetoed bills pertaining to the issue. Regardless of the outcomes, the constant issue of expansion opened the park to further compromise on authority to rule. The park would now experience one movement after another. The Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act in 1960 acted as a mission statement for the Forest Service which strengthened the agency and gained a more formal attitude from federal officials. At the same time, Conrad Wirth’s “Mission 66” focused national parks on recreation. Indian claims for land became more prevalent at the end of World War II and had to be assessed with monetary settlements. Barry Goldwater replaced Carl Hayden as Arizona senator and acted efficiently as he created a new bill (S. 693). This bill actually contradicted former decisions and nothing came of it. President Johnson’s proclamation No. 3389 permitted the creation Marble Canyon National Monument which put limits on development and solidified the boundaries of the park. Over the course of the Vietnam era, national preserves endured some of the greatest additions of all time. With attentions focused on the Vietnam War, parks and preserves demanded an increased amount of citizen participation. Groups such as the Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society built their foundations during this time. Job opportunities became available after Nixon was forced out of the office due to Watergate Scandals. Leader of the Sierra Club John McComb, assisted in the newly arrived buffer or scenic easement proposal. This idea would preserve plots of land while separating its different uses. Public knowledge started to grow larger and activists pushed for boundary expansion now more than ever. Constant efforts to extend the park reinstated feelings of discontent among Havasupai people. Heated debates became common occurrences and pressure was put on both parties to make effective decisions. Congressman Morris Udall’s decision to side with the tribe provided them with the advantage they needed to attain their goals. Finally, President Ford signed a bill entitled P.L. 93-620 giving the Havasupai natives authority to use the land within reason (no commercial use). Tribes such as Paiutes and Hopis, who never participated in negotiations, were beginning to receive recognition. As a result of the legislation, two studies were to be conducted to determine any problems that may result from the bill. The Park Suitability Study and the Adjacent Lands Study both concluded that boundaries remained secure through this period of change. Although some problems were solved due to P.L. 93-620, others still remained. Arguments concerning Indian desires for more land would remain strong as they had in the past. Other problems pertained primarily to issues within the park. Mining for fossil fuels, private land use, and commercialization through tourism forced park representatives to pursue regulations on air quality, water management, trespassing, and unauthorized hiking. Morehouse concludes by stating different perspectives on the Grand Canyon. Some see the area as a purified haven while others refer to it as a overpopulated tourist attraction. Whatever the view may be, this region can be respected for its historical significance and the ability to withstand change. Today, agencies involved with the Grand Canyon work toward respecting the park rather than trying to dominate it. Recognized by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit, the park suffers when used for multiple plans. The Grand Canyon Trust recently aids to the use of the park by analyzing all factors of involvement. Problems concerning those affected by park restrictions are still at hand although, are handled in a much more civilized manner so as to accomplish a common agreement. In concluding my reading of the book, I have formulated constructive criticism on the author’s work. First, as I have previously mentioned, the author’s choice to give historical and cultural background in the beginning chapter was critical. As a reader, I had always thought of the grand Canyon as a mosaic “place” that stood alone throughout history. I was completely unaware of any previous activity in the area before the establishment of the national park. Combined with knowledge of Caribbean colonization, it was brought to my attention that much of the same had occurred in this region. Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo tribes can be related to Carib and Arawak natives of the Caribbean islands who were forced to conform to a dominating society after participating in impossible battles. Morehouse goes on to portray the relentlessness of United States government officials in depriving these people of their lands. Here the author does an excellent job of writing without bias as some authors accidentally do. Throughout the entire report she shows all perspectives to every issue which allows the reader to fully understand the argument. This ability to present thorough information shows a complete dedication to research done on this subject. Morehouse was also effective in relating issues of the Grand Canyon to the nation as a whole. By chronologically stating information, the reader can examine results and effects of legislation as connected to the era. For example, information stated on attitudes toward the preservation of land during the time of the Vietnam War made complete sense. Citizen participation, as Morehouse writes, was demanded to sustain progress in conservation matters because the government was obviously occupied with foreign affairs. We can see how beneficial the Park Service was in times of recession caused by World Wars I and II. By providing employment, the Park Service provided activity to ease the minds of American citizens overcome by the Depression. Another point that is evident to us by the use of historical terms, is the solutions used for more recent dilemmas. Havasupai and Navajo tribes affected by restrictions of land use could no longer be monetarily satisfied. A more civilized action must taken that includes the reality of modernized living. It is physically detrimental and morally unacceptable to trap 300 people on a 500 acre plot of land. Although it was monotonous to read, I was satisfied to see that the Havasupai people remained consistent in their demands and attained them in the correct fashion. Constructive criticism would be incomplete if negative aspects were neglected to be assessed. As a reader, I personally like to have references placed where I can immediately refer to them. The book was complete with an index and bibliography; however, notes were printed after the final chapter which caused confusion during my reading. Also, chapters were all arranged in the same fashion which gave a sense of repetition. It seemed that boundary expansion issues were addressed first, followed by their results, which preceded Indian involvement. This repetition made it difficult to read for a great length of time without growing restless. A possible suggestion for better understanding the report would be the use of charts and maps to show the reader where legislation was going into effect. One diagram in the beginning of the book did not suffice. It soon became an identical situation to the problem with reference. Overall, I consider the book to be well written. A style less scientific would make for more enjoyable reading yet can be understood for the given subject. A relaxed style of writing in this situation may prevent the reader from taking the subject serious. This reading has taught me how it may be beneficial to write with some variation. To discuss the same topics in similar order would lose any reader’s attention. One final adjustment concerns relations to other national parks. A brief description on trials faced by other national parks may have put this story into a greater perspective. With all these opinions taken into account, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Grand Canyon’s history. As a began reading, I had no idea that I would become this well informed on events and occurrences which took place at this geological astonishment.