The Scripture of Nature
The Last Refuge
The Empire of Grandeur
The fifth episode, Great Nature, begins with the series' last significant Indian story. As Peter Coyote narrates:
To-tu-ya was the sole remaining survivor of that sad moment. This was her first time back. Half a generation after the Ahwahneechees’ expulsion, the federal government had preserved the beautiful valley permanently as a national park. Still, everywhere she looked, To-tu-ya was reminded of how much things had changed.
In a broken mixture of English, Spanish, and her own ancient language, she told her escorts that the valley floor was now more wooded and brushy than in her day. Her people had regularly set grass fires to keep the meadows open and the trees and shrubs at bay.
Then, she looked up at the rock walls of the valley. The great monoliths and the majestic waterfalls stood unchanged. Turning toward Half Dome, the cleft rock she knew as Tis-sa-ack, she stretched out her arms and raised her voice in a strong, clear, high-pitched call that echoed off the granite walls. It was, she explained, the call her grandfather Tenaya had once used to summon his people together. Until that moment, she had been the last one to hear it.
The episode offers one more noteworthy bit--this time about the Everglades:
Once again, however, the PBS website glosses over this history. In its historical overview, it doesn't mention Florida's Indians. It offers only a couple Native notes:
George Melendez Wright and the Balance of Nature
Capitol Reef in Utah, where the 100-mile Waterpocket Fold exposes a panoply of differently colored rock formations that the Navajo Indians called the "Land of the Sleeping Rainbow."
What could National Parks have said? Well, Indians are still involved in Yosemite, Everglades, and Olympic National Parks today. In fact, several articles about Indians and each of these parks appeared in 2009.
Instead of sentimental stories about couples spending their lives visiting the parks, tell us the parks' recent history. With all the controversies over the years, hold the feel-good stories about how the parks made people happy. Clearly the parks didn't do much for the Indians expelled from them.
For more on the subject, see Review of Burns's National Parks and Burns on Our National Parks.
Below: "Seminole Indians with dugout canoes, Everglades National Park, 1921." From a separate section on the Everglades, not from the series overview.