The problem for Muir, for the National Park Service, for all of us, is that America was never a blank slate. And we know now Muir’s story was wrong. As new research by ecologists like Kat Anderson, of University of California Davis, shows, Native Americans in California, including those in Yosemite Valley, intentionally used fire to open land, increase pasturage, prevent even larger more catastrophic fires, and promote biodiversity. Muir’s sacred Yosemite was not a garden tended by God, as he wrote so passionately about, it was a garden tended by Native people.
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