Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photos from the American Serengeti

When Lewis and Clark came west (early 1800's), they found oceans of grass, populated by legions of bison, as well as large numbers of pronghorns, elk, wolves, and grizzly bears. When artist and writer George Catlin journeyed into this landscape (1830's), and lived as guest among multiple tribes of American Indians, to draw and record their ways of life, he proposed the creation of a "Nation's Park" to protect the grand environment and its inhabitants. (And as far as we know, Catlin was the first person to propose the concept of a National Park, the originator of "America's Best Idea.") Later, the prairie became the American Serengeti, a popular safari destination for Europeans. After guns, trains, and imperialism had their way, the landscape was not the same. Wind Cave National Park preserves small remnants of the grand prairie, with some key actors (such as bison and black-footed ferrets) restored, while others (such as wolves and bears) are still missing. To restore more of this great world, larger public parks are needed.

 (Topmost photo stars my big bro Carl. Third photo stars the Yucca Glauca, one of the most versatile plants used by native peoples. You probably recognize the bison and pronghorns.) 

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