Tag: america

A reveller performs during a "pow-wow" celebrating the Indigenous Peoples' Day Festival in Randalls Island, in New York indigenous peoples' day

Native Americans have been the stewards of land conservation for millenniums. Today on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we celebrate them.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is here! Today is a day to pause and honor the rich history of native groups that have called the present-day land of America home for millenniums before European colonizers. How long exactly is currently up for debate. Historically, it was believed that the Americas have been lived on for the past 13,000 years, after the retreat of massive path-blocking glaciers, but recently that time frame has been shattered. With the discovery of a 23,000 year old footprint in White Sand National Park, scientists are now at a new dawn of archaeology. To celebrate the important history of Native Americans, we present three groups and the practices they established to utilize and honor the natural systems that sustained them.

indigineous people's day 2021

Reclaiming and Renaming Columbus Day

Interestingly, Columbus Day itself was founded due to discrimination. In the early to mid-19th century, Italian immigrants became more and more prominent in the United States of America. With that, came a wave of Catholic culture and groups. These groups were met with much adversity by the protestant groups that settled in America before them. Longing for relief and acceptance, Italian immigrants began to cling to the legacy of Christopher Columbus – a figure who was not widely known at the time. Books padded the story of Columbus’ arrival and glorified his character. And in 1906, Colorado was the first state to officially recognize Columbus Day. 

Origins of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Pushed for decades informally, but first recognized by the state of South Dakota in 1989, “Native American Day” became a much better counter to the previous glorification of Columbus. In 1992, marking the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage, American Indians in Berkeley, California, organized the first “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”. Now, Indigenous Peoples’ Day has replaced Columbus Day in many states, and acts as a national holiday to celebrate those native cultures and pay respect to the history of indigenous America. 

Three Indigenous Groups and their Sustainable Practices

Nomadic Grazing in the Great Plains

What comes to mind when you think of the American Great Plains? Grand? Majestic? Rich-beyond-belief? No, it’s probably the thought of a vast corn field, or maybe a long flat stretch of land with a few cows and a windmill. The Great Plains weren’t always like this. In fact, when first observed by European settlers, most were in disbelief at the beauty and biodiversity of the land. Now, it’s a different story. The Great Plains aren’t appreciated as majestic or rich, because colonizers have changed the landscape with homogenized farming. 

Years ago, the land was inhabited by a list of native groups, some of which include the Cheyenne, Pawnee, and Blackfoot tribes. Most of these groups were nomadic or semi-nomadic. Instead of settling and working land permanently, they often followed herds and pleasant weather. Following herds allowed previously grazed land an opportunity to recover and regrow, while providing the herds and humans a survey of fresh wild plant growth. Also, in following agreeable weather, these groups were able to escape harsh conditions like drought, flooding, or early freezes, all problems that modern farmers loathe. 

Native people used the Great Plains in the way they naturally evolved to be used. And contrary to what we may believe today, the land should not be closed up, locked down, and homogenized. Today, regenerative ranching techniques are being studied and practiced, and they all are based around the natural, native way the land used to produce. As this change occurs, attention needs to be paid, not only to the practices and techniques, but to the tribes themselves that originated. Tribal tourism is an excellent way to bring much needed funding to the tribes that still work in the Great Plains, and with any luck, our nation’s majestic center may one day return to it’s natural, extra-productive beauty. 

Preserved Beauty in Sierra Nevada

Starting in the middle of the 19th century, some of America’s most beautiful regions were swarmed with entrepreneurs dead-set on taking their “fair share” of the natural bounty of the gold rush. Rivers were filled, mountains were blasted, and violence invaded a once serene place. 

Before the area became a magnet, many native tribes lived in the area. Among them, the Maidu Tribe was a prominent group in the area around Lassen Volcanic National Park. They traveled in the summer, existing in temporary teepees and hunting big game, and stayed stationary in the winter, living in pit houses and surviving off stored food. Salmon, trout, and deer were some of the main proteins in their diet. And all these could be found at a plentiful rate. It wasn’t until the influx of 49’ers, that the food supplies started to be crippled. Oak trees were cut ruthlessly, game populations were hunted to dwindling levels, and mining runoff interfered with river health. It didn’t take long before the activity in the area forced the Maidu off their land, and into the Round Valley Reservation.

After the mining boom started to die, the wildlife slowly returned. Rivers regained health, and native growth took back the once bustling operations. Conservation groups stepped in and aided regrowth of the area, and worked to rebuild some of the natural systems that sustained tribes like the Maidu. As more attention and development is brought to these mountains, discretion is needed to manage what gets heavily trafficked. For this cause, National Geographic partnered with Solimar and the Sierra Nevada Business Council to address this specific issue. An interactive website was created to point out and promote the lesser known points of interest, right next to the biggest names. In this work, an avenue was created to lift up and protect the points of natural and cultural importance in the area. 

Thriving in the Southwest United States

In the south western region of the United States, water is a scarcity. Just ask any city planner in Las Vegas or Phoenix, and they’ll start to describe the logistical problems with trying to supply potable water to millions of people in America’s driest states. So you can only imagine how much harder it was before the modern marvels of today’s reservoir and transportation systems. Much like the perception of the Great Plains mentioned above, this is a bit of a fallacy. To get a look at “easy living” in the sunbelt, we need to take a look, once again, at the indigenous groups from the area. 

Tribes like the Ute, Hopi, and the Navajo Nation thrived in the area around the present Four Corners Monument. As one can assume when looking at abandoned mass-dwellings like those of Mesa Verde National Park, large civilizations were logistically challenging in this area. As the climate became more and more arid, tribes opted for smaller, better placed communities. Labeled by Spanish explorers as “pueblitos,” small villages dominated the area. These villages were chosen with a keen eye to water supply, tactical placement, and proximity to resources. Thousands of acres of surveyed land were passed up and left by native groups seeking settlement points, and only the best areas were chosen. With these smaller, spread out groups, life was easier to sustain in harsh conditions. Water supplies were less likely to be depleted, and food was better distributed among the land. 

Much like the work in Sierra Nevada, another Mapguide was established for the Four Corners region. With this work, more money can be brought to smaller communities and attractions that stand outside of the huge pulls like Moab and the Grand Canyon. So when looking at the issues of huge desert urban areas, the idea of a network of smaller communities looks a whole lot more sustainable and attractive. 

 

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor this land’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. Solimar urges all to consider and honor the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up this country, both today and every day.

Check out our Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail project to learn how Solimar has worked with Native American tribes across the United States.

What places fully embody the American essence? A Solimar team discovers top American Independence Day Destinations on a road trip

Nearly one year ago, inspired by Solimar’s ongoing Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail project, I set out with my friend Nick on a “great American road trip” to explore and rediscover our country.  With the same yearning for adventure as those two great explorers, Nick and I rolled out of our hometown in southeastern Pennsylvania in a minivan overflowing with tents, sleeping bags, non-perishable food, bear spray, and clothing for all weather conditions. Six weeks later we returned to Pennsylvania with ragged beards, long, unwashed hair, dark sun tans, and, above all else, an overwhelming sense of patriotism.  From the major cities to the small towns to the sprawling and beautiful national parks, the vastness and diversity of the United States is something to be proud of.  Now on Independence Day, I reflect on some of the top American Independence Day Destinations that carry the spirit of our great nation.

American Independence Day Destinations #1: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I would be remiss to neglect my home city in this list, and anyone looking to explore the history of Independence Day must begin in Philadelphia – the birthplace of the United States.  Be sure to visit Independence Hall and stand in the same room where our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  Next door you will find the famous Liberty Bell that announced that Declaration to the people of the newly formed United States of America.  Other historic attractions abound, including the house of Betsy Ross, Franklin Square, and the Museum of the American Revolution.  A trip to Philadelphia will leave you with a feeling of ownership of our nation’s first weeks and years as an independent country…and also a full belly!  Be sure to have a cheesesteak or two!

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. A quintessential American destination

 

American Independence Day Destinations #2: New York City, New York

One of the most recognizable cities in the world, New York is a bastion of American culture, consumerism, diversity, and history.  Love it or hate it, the Big Apple is distinctly American and a place every citizen must visit at least once (and probably more, as it is impossible to see the whole city in one stay).  From historic black communities in Harlem to the unceasing energy in Times Square, Central Park to Yankee Stadium, the Statue of Liberty to the One World Trade Center, New York offers endless possibilities to its visitors.  Whatever you choose to do in New York, you will leave with an increased understanding of what it means to be an American.  On the Fourth of July, attractions range from the spectacular Macy’s Fireworks to the grotesque but engrossing Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. What says American Independence Day Destinations like hot dogs!

Manhattan, New York City. The history of America lives here

 

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

Many people (me included) find the greatest sense of national pride in nature, and there are no better places to marvel at America’s natural beauty than at some of its 423 national parks.  Established in 1872, Yellowstone is our country’s (and the world’s) oldest national park.  Covering a whopping 3,471 square miles, the park preserves a diverse and dramatic landscape of rivers, lakes, canyons, plains, forests, hot springs, and geysers.  Exploring the park gives visitors a glimpse into the natural history of the United States, and nowhere is this more evident than observing the last free-ranging bison herd in the country.  Once dotting the western plains in the millions, Yellowstone is still home to nearly 5,000 wild bison.  Symbolizing American strength and resilience, an up-close look at a bison will leave visitors awestruck and humbled.  


The great American Bison in Yellowstone National Park

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

One of the things that makes me proud to be an American is the tremendous diversity of our nation, and there is no better place to celebrate that diversity than New Orleans.  French, Spanish, and Creole traditions are alive and well in the architecture, delicious food, and distinctive music of the city.  This explosion of multilingual and cross-cultural influences can be found anywhere in the city, from the lively parties on Bourbon Street, to the eateries around Jackson Square and the jazz shows in Tremé.  New Orleans is also home to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it is only fitting that the waters of America’s mightiest river come to a head in one of its most unique and diverse cities – a grand finale in a long tour southwards that bisects the nation. While here, participate in some of the long-lasting structural, economic, and cultural traditions brought about by the African-American community in NoLa. Upon their forcible removal from the Senegambia region of West Africa, the first community of 5000 enslaved Africans arrived in the city in 1719. Nearly a century later with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, New Orleans was home to 2,773 enslaved people of African ancestry and 1,335 free people of color; making up 51% of the city’s population. Of all the African-American contributions to American culture, music tops the list. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. Black resistance to slavery created other culturally significant legacies such as Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Zulu, Second Line Parade, and Voodoo. To fully come to grips with the history of the United States this Independence Day, it is important to acknowledge some of the darkest parts of American history and the culturally significant legacies born from fearless resistance. 

Brass Band performance in the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans

 

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

It isn’t something to be taken for granted that the United States is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the Grand Canyon certainly deserves its place on the list.  Gazing across the canyon (we recommend the South Rim for the views, although the North Rim is less crowded) is a truly sublime experience.  Once you convince yourself you are in fact still in the United States and not on another planet, you may catch a glimpse of a California condor soaring overhead, its record-breaking 10-foot wingspan casting a long shadow on the ground, and you will need to begin the process again of conceptualizing this otherworldly destination.  Leaving the Grand Canyon made Nick and I swell with pride for living in a nation that is committed to preserving natural wonders like this one. It is one of the best American Independence Day Destinations.    

 

The awe-inspiring South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

On Independence Day, it is important to recognize the hardship and sacrifice that our ancestors suffered through to preserve the Great American Experiment in democracy.  One of the best destinations to do this is at Gettysburg Battlefield in southern Pennsylvania.  The site of the bloodiest battle in the history of the Western hemisphere, Union and Confederate forces clashed from July 1-3, 1863 around the town of Gettysburg, and the eventual Union victory marked a key turning point in the Civil War.  The battlefield is pristinely preserved and complete with countless monuments, memorials, and plaques for visitors to educate themselves about the battle.  Guided tours are also available, and yearly reenactments draw thousands of actors and spectators from around the country.  I’ve visited Gettysburg several times and always leave with feelings of deep sorrow for the lives lost combined with immense pride that a nation whose citizens slaughtered each other for five years still stands as one.  On Independence Day, the anniversary of the end of the battle now 158 years old, it gives me hope for the future of the nation.

Learn about American history at Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg Battlefield

As more and more people are traveling as the threat of COVID-19 decreases, especially this Fourth of July weekend, I encourage you all to stop and reflect on the history, culture, and people that define the place you find yourself in.  I guarantee there will be something about it to make you proud to be an American. 

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Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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