Tribal culture may benefit from some of nearly $1 million in grants awarded to 56 of the country’s 400 national parks and monuments as National Parks Week wrapped up late last month.
On May 1 the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, announced the award of 22 grants totaling $409,262 under the 2013 Active Trails program. This came closely on the heels of the $465,000 the foundation gave to 34 national parks across the country through the America's Best Idea program, designed to make parks accessible to diverse populations, the foundation announced on April 23.
“One of the great things about our national parks is that every American can relate to these treasured places if given the chance to experience them,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, in a statement. “It’s our mission to engage visitors from all backgrounds in the diverse stories that we tell in our national parks. Thanks to the support of the National Park Foundation, we can propel that outreach, and engage new audiences that would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience a national park.”
The program is named eponymously for the documentary by Ken Burns, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and gives funding to “activities designed to connect diverse, underserved and under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways,” the foundation said in a media release.
“The America’s Best Idea program gives people—particularly youth—incredible opportunities to connect to our national parks through unique and innovative ways,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation, in the statement. “From experiences that center on history, the environment and even adventure, we are able to capture the imagination of a new generation of park goers in ways that benefit their lives and the future of the parks.”
In Arizona, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was awarded $15,000 from the Best Idea program to put toward a project that “will enable underserved and under-engaged Diné youth to reconnect to the environment by engaging in natural and cultural stewardship activities along their beloved San Juan River,” the parks service said in its media release.
Three other parks in Arizona got about the same amount each under the Best Ideas program; the grants will bring youth of various ethnicities and income levels in contact with national parks and monuments. The Active Trails program, which gets members of the public involved in trail work, special-event planning and community restoration or preservation by sponsoring special projects in those areas, is in its fifth year.
Several of the Active Trails projects involve Native heritage sites, most notably the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in Tennessee, which remembers and commemorates the removal and survival of Cherokee and other American Indians.