Urban Native Era
The Last National Park is a documentary that will challenge understandings of National Parks and public lands, highlight the profound impact of renaming National Parks to their Indigenous names, and re-center Indigenous communities in the conversation (and practice) of national lands, further informing environmental, land-based, and social justice approaches.
The goal of this documentary is to highlight the efforts of Native communities to reclaim space and re-center visibility. This project requires the filmmakers to travel to National Parks/Monuments to collect both historical and contemporary stories of Indigenous people and their relationship to these publicly preserved entities. This film provides a more complete history of these National treasures, while also asserting a way of thinking about how Indigenous peoples can be more involved in the stewardship of these National Parks/Monuments.
A history of the National Parks from an Indigenous perspective will be explored, this includes dissecting the notion that America was an “unpeopled” wilderness. Prominent Americans such as Washington Irving and John Audobon were among the few who recognized that the natural landscape was inextricably connected to Native peoples, advocating for a National Park system that included the Native people of the land. As we know this perspective took second place to John Muir’s uninhabited wilderness vision for America’s National Parks. Prejudice-based attitudes that put forward the notion that the original stewards of the land were actually unfit to preserve and utilize their own resources, was a factor that enabled America’s expansion Westward and its belief in Manifest Destiny, and, later, the creation of National Parks and Monuments.