The country’s national parks are often dubbed “America’s best idea.” California has nine — more than any other state. We think of the parks as these magnificent natural wonders that are worth preserving from development and destruction by man. But long before the U.S. government set them aside for our enjoyment and recreation, the land they now sit on wasn’t empty. Native American tribes lived on these lands, and they were often violently removed by white settlers to create these parks.
So as the country discusses the idea of paying reparations to African Americans for the horrors of slavery, an idea is brewing to address the millions of acres of land stolen from Native Americans.
Return the national parks to the tribes. That’s the argument in an Atlantic article by historian David Treuer, who’s also Native American and author of “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present.”