|Am I breaking a rule by using this icon in a non-National Park Service place? Possibly. I live on the edge.|
Recognize it? The bison represents wildlife, the tree represents the biology, the landscape represents, well, landscapes. Oh, and the arrowhead outline. What does it mean to include the arrowhead? Right. Culture and history (or, the fancy term: cultural resources). Considering the vast majority of parks are historical and cultural parks, the representation of the arrowhead in this emblem is important.
What does it mean that the National Park Service takes care of history and culture? What is included in history and culture?
Yep, houses, battlefields, furniture, forts, archaeological finds, monuments, cliff dwellings, farms, and even tailor shops.
What else? Prison sites, protest sites, plantations and slave quarters, missile beds, internment camps, places of government-approved genocide, even gallows.
What else? Cultural resources include lots of things we can not see. The history. Stories. Oral histories. Memory. Literature. Artistic or musical portrayals. Research. Scholarship. That means old scholarship that reflected contemporary times, and new scholarship that shows how our society has evolved. Some of the history is painful. Actually, a lot of it is painful. Sorry, that's just part of our story. The history of the United State of America is messy, complex, and complicated. It is filled with things that we used to candy-coat and whitewash (or just outright ignore). Scholarship glorified some parts of the history while outright ignoring others. So the interpretation at these historic sites used to take that candy-coating and spread it around. Warm fuzzies here! Get your warm fuzzies!
Except our history is not filled with warm fuzzies. Interpreters utilizing nostalgia as history are not doing justice to the past. Interpreters scared of somebody questioning scholarship don't need to be working in the public. Interpreters who don't understand that our past is incredibly racialized and are not willing to start talking about it should maybe find a different vocation. It is 2015. It is time to start acting like it.
|Battlefield? Yes. But also a place where slaves worked the fields that soldiers would one day run through |
and later where former slaves formed a community.
The battle is only one part of a complex narrative that played out on the landscape here.
It is easy to rest on the warm fuzzies. I know the excuses. "I'm tired of repeating myself." "I don't want to ruffle feathers." "I don't like arguments." "Confrontation is too difficult." "That's out of my paygrade." "This is easier."
|This is a National Park (and people expect more from you).|
*Yes, this is written on my own (limited) free time.
**Yes, these are just opinions from the member of the public (me).
***Dwight Pitcaithley Fan Club, who wants to join?
****Yes, this is very much so a continuation of what I wrote yesterday. No, I'm not done, yet.