Public Lands Curriculum: Examining the past to build a more equitable future

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The President of the Wilderness Society – Jamie Williams – addresses the audience for the curriculum with the following introduction and explanation:

“We are thrilled to share a curriculum on public lands and waters in the United States. We hope it will be a useful tool for building connections between people and America’s natural landscapes. Public lands are an important part of United States history, and they play a significant role in American life. Each year, millions of people visit public lands to relax, engage in ceremonial activities, recreate, connect with nature, and escape the stresses of the working world. These visits are an indispensable part of the American experience. Because of their role in American life, The Wilderness Society believes it is important for everyone to have an understanding of public lands. To be accurate and complete, our understanding must include a recognition that the network of public lands we have today was Indigenous land long before the United States become a nation. In addition, when we talk about decisions made to protect public lands, we must place those decisions in the broader historical and social context in which they were made, and acknowledge that the story of public lands includes some of the most controversial and troubling aspects of American history. This belief has driven the development of the Public Lands Curriculum. A fuller reckoning with the history of public lands also compels us to act now to build a more equitable conservation community and public lands system. We hope the curriculum will generate dialogue among conservationists, recreationists and others with an interest in public lands. We also hope the curriculum will enable outdoor educators to increase understanding amongst students and visitors and inspire them to care for America’s natural landscapes.”

The curriculum was created as a collaborative effort, published by the Wilderness Society. Accessed Oct 17, 2022 from