Jessica DeWitt looks at how the U.S. federal government took land away from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to give to the state of Idaho for the creation of Heyburn State Park in 1908. DeWitt traces the way in which the Coeur d’Alene navigated state and federal law throughout the twentieth century in an attempt to gain back the land from its negligent, state landlords. Anne Janhunen examines how terminology and categorization—in this case, the use of the term “squatter” by the Canadian government in Ontario—were used to legitimize dispossession policies. Matthew Minarchek critiques the relationships between militarization, science, and environmental conservation in Aceh, Sumatra (Indonesia) during the Dutch colonial period. He posits that park creation in Aceh was only possible due to the physical and psychological violence of soldiers, scientists, and environmentalists, who used the erasure of indigenous peoples to accumulate territory. In the Arctic, Philip Wight shows that while the Gwich’in and Inupiat peoples of Northeastern Alaska were first ignored in the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, their voices were soon appropriated by both environmentalists and the oil industry. From 1970 through 2005, the First Peoples of the northeastern Alaska rejected both unchecked extractivism and the idea of wilderness, and instead fought for “native life on native terms” that reflected their millennia of land management.
Indigenous suppression and park creation were two parallel pillars of expansive colonial and nationalist regimes, which viewed both processes through the lens of Anglo ethno-centrism. While phenomenally violent, this panel will demonstrate that the state also battled itself over the rights and resources it accords to First Peoples. Ultimately, despite being seen in the colonial public imagination as one of the most benign forms of government power, the creation of parks, ecological preserves, and wildlife refuges remained a potent mechanism for the whitewashing of green spaces.