July 18, 2008

Myopic Mt. Graham Observatory

Recently I posted an article on the battle over Mt. Graham: the University of Arizona and John McCain vs. Apaches and squirrels. If you visit the Mount Graham International Observatory website, you'd never guess that the Apache people claim the mountain as a holy site. In fact, the University has apparently scrubbed the Indians out of existence.

First, let's look at what the University considers A Long Time Ago...:Mount Graham International Observatory was conceived in the early 1980s. To understand more about the very early years--click on Site Testing Era. Two telescopes, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope and the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope, were dedicated in 1993. The Large Binocular Telescope was dedicated in 2004 and is expected to be in full operation in 2009.Yes, the ancient era of the 1980s. Next, learn A Little Bit of History:"Local people refer to the entire mountain range southwest of Safford as Mt. Graham. The actual name 'Pinaleño Mountains' comes from an Indian word meaning "many deer," or deer mountain."

While the Mt. Graham area has been inhabited more or less continually in the past, the Gila Valley can trace its recorded history back to the time of the Spanish Conquistadores.

In the early 1880’s settlers came to the area in large numbers. These settlers found that the nearby mountains were a great benefit.
The first two paragraphs contain the only (oblique) references to Indians in the main text. The only other mention is in a footnote on the naming of a highway:2) This road was named Swift Trail after Thomas T. Swift, a Forest Supervisor with the Crook National Forest at that time. General Crook was involved with the Indian Wars in the late 1800’s.Let's get this straight. "Pinaleño" comes from an Apache word, but the website refers only to an "Indian word." The Apache have inhabited the Mt. Graham area for centuries, but the website refers only to inhabitation without naming the inhabitants.

In other words, the University has willfully removed any references to the Apache from its website. History began when the Spanish arrived and really got going when Anglos settled the area in the 1880s.

This is the same Eurocentrism that prevailed in past centuries in textbooks and other standard descriptions of American history. But it's funny to see it on an academic website in 2008.

I guess the University is afraid to admit the Apache have any claim on Mt. Graham. So it rewrites history and hopes nobody will notice. Talk about your intellectual cowardice.

Well, we've noticed. Let's hope this posting pops up high in the Google rankings whenever anyone searches for "Mt. Graham." It'll serve the University right.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I'm glad to report that this posting is already in the top 100 if you Google "Mt. Graham" and the top 20 if you Google "Mt. Graham" and "Apaches." Not bad for something I posted three days ago.