tv Conservation in the West CSPAN October 27, 2018 11:10pm-12:01am EDT
that is focused on the internet and the website that posts the results or the website that stores but a registration databases. they are not looking at transmissions to see if they are there, voting machines, tabulation machines, those are the core systems. the core critical systems of an election. dhs does not have a hand in any of them. >> what's the communicators monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span two. in 1890, the census bureau declared the end of the american frontier after decades of settlement and population growth in the west. this caused a spark and conservation and wildlife preservation efforts, including the creation of use in many national park. institute,the aspen western and environmental theory professors discuss impact of economic growth and industrialization on the west and the beginning of the
conservation movement. this is about 50 minutes. looking at the 19th century, we are really looking at what came before it. saying with the panel how does this reflect and make a difference in our world today. whether we're talking about the tennis century, the 21st century, i will look at some of the histories and how will we have learned reflects and influences. thank you very much. day, itme to our final has been quite exciting and enlightening. our job today is to bring it all home. tie everything neatly together. wrap up everything perfectly. probably not. that is not the way historians typically work.
we will get a version of it is markup located in that heard several times today. i hope that in the sessions you can see the different threads in the conference that have been following through each of the days that we have had panels on environment questions, of which this one will take up, questions about american indians and native peoples, a thread that will be in the next session, and a very broad issues about the meaning of the west, the code of the west, western, the myth, the history. we will bring that together in the final session today. a very exciting morning and i am delighted to be joined by all of these people, having heard from them and soon all desk several panels already. for those in c-span, i am joined by dan, sarah, and marty. eminent, as you know, historians of the american west
and in the case of the american environment in particular. american culture. , remind us where we were a little bit in sessions we have heard, including yesterday. and set the scene a little bit for the end of the 19th century and how changes in american , in particular, reshaping american attitudes and views toward nature and the natural world and the way in which that impacted, thinking about the beginnings of conservation. the title of the discussion, as well as the legislation that continue to have it found impact on the world in the west we live in today. let me ask you to set the scene a little bit and provide cultural and -- context that is shaping the era in terms of what
is going on in the last decades of the 19th century. >> thank you stephen. i want to talk a little bit about yesterday. when we made our field trip yesterday out to bill coax bear ranch. we saw a version of a particular slice of western history. we saw a town that was meant to suggest a small world western town in the rockies, the great basin between the 1860s and the 1880s. what i want to argue today is that kind of fascination with particular moment of western history, is not new. in 1890s which is where our conversation is starting this morning, it is where we see that fascination with a particular moment of what seemed to be vanished western history really take root. so let me mention a few key people here to keep in mind. the first is historian frederick jackson turner. is that familiar to anyone?
in 1893 he published an essay called, "the front in american -- frontier in american culture." turner was a kind of anxious man. he looked at the 1890 census which said there was no longer a continuous line of sparsely settled land, i.e. a frontier. and that line he said have marked all of previous american history. as a frontier he argued people were stripped of their familiar conventions, forced to confront to the environment and from that interaction emerged in particular vigorous kind of american democracy. he worried now that the frontier was technically gone, how would americans renew that democratic spirit? so he had the sense that a key moment had just passed. but let me throw out a few other figures that are circling around american culture at the same time. the first is teddy roosevelt. in 1884 he has a breakdown after the simultaneous death of his
mother and his wife. he goes out to dakota territory for a rest. this elite easterner have the sense that in the wilderness, he could recover a kind of vitality. and in fact is you probably know, for the rest of his life, he is a spokesperson for what people call the camp cure. return to the wilderness to recover one's manly vigor. yesterday at the ranch we saw a number of copies of frederick remington paintings and frederick remington sculptures. frederick remington, the great western artist -- i regret we don't have one of his pictures right behind us right now -- he was out west in the 1890's and he too, was an easterner. he too senses that something really vital has just disappeared. he wrote this, right before his death in 1909. the west is no longer the west of picturesque and stirring events. romance and adventure have been beaten down and the rest of
civilization. -- brush of civilization -- ruch of -- rush of civilization. the country west of mississippi has become hopelessly commercialized, shackled in chained of business to us other most limits. the cowboy, the ring thing mark you disappeared with the advent of the wire fence. as for the indians, there are so few of them he doesn't count. so when he is painting these paintings from new rochelle, new york, he too is regretting the west that seems to have disappeared. we can throw into this makes the philadelphia novelist who wrote, "the virginian" in 1902, that novel that evokes so much of what we saw yesterday. at the wild west town. the virginian has a code of the west. if he gives his word he keeps it and he has never written women. -- never rude to women. the virginian events the scene of the shoot out in the street between the good guy and the bad guy.
you can almost visualize that happening last night at bear ranch. so there is an intense anxiety at this particular moment in the 1890s that the west has somehow profoundly changed. and just to wrap up, i think it is no coincidence that this is a moment in 1891 that we see the birth of the sierra club to help preserve some of that western. -- west. that we see the yosemite which has been a state park since the 1860s, in 1890 become a national park or as you will hear in a moment a number of federal acts passed to preserve the wilderness. there is intense anxiety in 1890s and americans are worrying about how to preserve what seemed to have just slipped through their grasp. >> let's pick up on that, dan -- i will ask both dan and sarah to weigh in on the ways in which this cultural anxiety about the changes on the west and changes in american society more
broadly as increasing americans have been living in cities and working in industrial occupations. the jeffersonian ideal of the yeoman farmer seems to be slipping further and further in the american past. the frontier spirit, that has been so crucial to invigorating the american character, it seems to be also fading into the past. how that translates into actual thinking and anxiety but also real concrete action in the beginning of what we see as an environmental movement and the tensions within that. so picking up on the themes, divided in the previous panel. i'm going to make you mr. flores. -- donna. fauna. mr. flores will be our fauna person and dr. laura will be our flora person.
-- dr. dan will be our flora person. >> thanks, marty. thanks, steve, for that wonderful contextual explanation for what is going on. what we historians refer to this period as looking back on the culture of it is the period of the nostalgic west which is what remington and russell also per -- portray in their art or post-frontier anxiety. post frontier anxiety took a lot of forms. one of the forms it tended to take was a feeling that the civilized 20th century was closing in on people. that suddenly, this intoxicating, untrammeled freedom we have had in the 19 -- 19th century was being
curtailed. one of the ways it was being curtailed, particularly as sarah is about to explain, is through the beginnings of a conservation movement that attempts to apply that regulatory corrective to the story of the petri dish that i was offering up as a metaphor a couple days ago. if you remember, i said that exologists often used this aphorism of putting a food source and bacteria in a petri dish and without some sort of correction, without another species of bacteria that prevents the original bacteria from simply running wild, what the original bacteria will do is eat everything available and then basically destroy themselves. if you look at the 19th century west as a prelude to this period
of post-frontier anxiety, what you realize about it is that -- and part of the reason we are so fascinated with it, still, today, is that it offered up an opportunity for the untrammeled and intoxicating freedom that we simply wouldn't get again from 1900 or so, on. in some ways that is the demarcation of the end of the frontier as well. i just want to point out to you, though, the rational for the regulation that came in the early 20th century that we call the conservation movement was built on pretty sound principles. if you look at the intoxicating freedom of the 19 century in terms of the american west, what in effect it produced was the largest single destruction of
wildlife that is discoverable in modern history. i mean we lost some species entirely. the most numerous bird in the entire world, the passenger pigeon, became extinct. the most brightly colored large bird of north america, the carolina parakeet became extinct. we nearly lost bison, as i mentioned the other day, down to only 1000 animals. we nearly lost elk, we lost pronghorns down to 13,000 from 15 million. we drew 50,000 grizzly bears down to a few hundred. we don't know how many. one species after another, gray wolves, which are extirpated in the lower 48 by the 1920s we basically lose. 3 million wild horses we send off to dog food plants in illinois when the dekalb company
starts making dog food, its primary product, and basing it on wild horses in the west. so it's this amazing, mind-boggling destruction of animals. the other day, i told you, i would read you two quotes which were only 26 years apart in the west. i read you the first one, which is from john james audubon. he is absolutely gob smacked by this tremendous abundance of animals. he says no one can imagine the diversity and the abundance of the wildlife along the missouri river. 26 years later the earl of dunn raven would buy up estes park prior to creation of rocky mountain national park. he was one of a host of elite
europeans, seven or eight of them, who went on safari in the american west in the 19th century. he along with the duke alexi of russia were among the last two to do so. on the hunt out of the great plains east of denver, northeast of denver, actually, finished up a run through a herd of elk out on the plains from which he and his partner shot down more than 60 animals. they shot pronghorn's as they were fleeing, they shot at buffalo, although they did not actually kill one on this particular hunt. they were surrounded by animals. it was this wild adventure for about five or six minutes. that's all it lasted. and then he went to the camp that night and sat down to his
journal, and this is what he wrote. what he was conveying to us, he was a sensitive sort of safari hunter, who spent a lot of time in europe with painters and poets and actors. so he was more sensitive than a lot of these westerners, i think. he wrote this. in a second, it was all gone. there was not a living creature to be seen. the oppressive silence was unbroken by the faintest sounds. i looked all around the horizon, not one sign of life. everything then became dull, dead, quiet, and utterly sad and melancholy. what the earl of dunn raven was conveying through his journal,
into the world, was really what this untrammeled freedom on the frontier had wrought. we had basically destroyed the world like those bacteria in the petri dish. and without any kind of regulation, that is the sort of world we are creating. that is the world we longed for in the 1920's, looking back on the 1870s and 1880s. wouldn't it be wonderful to go back? but of course you can't go back unless you come up with some way of creating a future that provides some sort of curb to the instincts of human nature. what the earl of dunn raven was experiencing, was really what we humans, have pretty much done for 40,000 years, leaving africa and spreading around the world.
we have done this over and over and over again. and this was the last time we got to do it. now we confronted a world that was going to provide some sort of curb on the appetites of human nature. and we call that curb, conservation. >> so let me turned from flores to fluoro. pick up the theme how this gets translated into legislation, policy, new ideas about how to curb that human appetite for killing all in front of it. or, for destroying, or as terry anderson said in his session, invoking the idea of the tragedy of the commons is a thing we might want to come back to. >> i would like to thank my colleagues for that really great set up. the tragedy of the commons is
exactly the idea was going to pick up on. this is an idea an ecologist came up with in the 1960s. he used the idea of an english commons he said, if you have a village surrounded by grazing commons, and everyone would have access on the commons and you put a single cow there, it is a sustainable system. because there is not too much destruction visited on the commons. as long as everyone operates in the common good then it works very well. it is very stable and sustainable. but the trouble comes, the tragedy as he called it, comes when an individual says if i add just one more cow to the commons, that will degrade the -- won't degrade the commons, but it will substantially increase my own wealth and success. and that is true.
as long as he is the only one who does that, there is no discernible difference. but when everyone acts in their own interests, everyone puts another cow on then you get overgrazing and the destruction of the commons. therein, he says, lies the tragedy. in some ways what we are seeing here is the tragedy of the commons by the late 19th and early 20th century. we have water sources that have been radically degraded by overgrazing. extensive timber harvests. we have lost massive numbers of animals. there is nostalgia for -- how do we recapture that? in the early 20th century, the answer was that the federal government is the solution to the problem. i know, you can laugh. but the federal government is an solution to the problem, these are progressive reformers
believed in the idea that the federal government was the best steward of the nation's natural resources. so what we see is a creation of the public lan system. we are very fond of that in the west. the sense we are wanting to protect our watersheds was the genesis for the national forests. the national forest system doesn't really come out of a desire to protect trees as it does to protect water. which we talked about a couple days ago which is the essential resource that you need to survive and be successful in the west. the idea that we need national parks, as marnie suggested again. these protections were all about creating a federal commons , a way for all of us to have access to the kinds of resources that would make us a truly great nation.
in the beginning of the 20th century, we had the three, conservation, preservation and reclamation. i will briefly talk about what those are. we are all coming out of this concern of loss. the first of these was conservation. this is the idea of theodore roosevelt and his chief forester, and the idea was that we needed to conserve resources for future use. it is a utilitarian idea. the idea is we need to have protected forests so that we always have a forest for the homebuilder, first of all. so that we can always create homes and cities that would make a thriving economy. at the same time there is also a different way of valuing nature. that is probably most commonly associated with john muir. this is the idea of
preservation. preservation values nature for its aesthetic value. it is not about board feet of timber or irrigation, it is about the sublime. it is about the beauty of nature in its restorative power. these two could work very closely together and what we get are places like yosemite and the early national park. but the utilitarian idea behind conservation was probably the winner of the first round of discussion of the plan. in order to succeed in the west which is less than 20 inches of rainfall a year, you are going to have to irrigate in order to successfully farm. irrigating the arid lands of the west was a cost that was not
simply bearable by individuals, corporations, or even by the state. believe me, we tried all those things. so once again, the federal government to the rescue. in 1902, the newlands reclamation act, created the bureau of reclamation within the federal government with the idea that the federal government would build the kind of hydraulic water system that could make the desert bloom. we would build dams, irrigation, canals. this would be the way to reclaim the west from the desert and to make our settlement dreams a success. that's one of the reasons i think, molly talked about in our panel the other day. there actually more homesteads claimed in the 20th century, than there were in the 19th century. it is what makes all of her western states possible today. a kind of flies in the face of john wesley powell and it brings water to where the people were.
we are going to settle where we want to and then by gosh, we will engineer our way to the water. in many ways than what we try to do was create a federal commons. the commons of public lands and resources whether it was water in the reclamation program, public lands, forests, national parks. these are going to be the resources that all americans could have access to that would hopefully restore the promise that the west had been, perhaps on the 19th century. >> we will spring forward on the environment. now with the legislation a new -- and new thinking that comes into place. there are dramatic changes that it brings to the way that 19th century americans can typically see these ideas and issues. i want to ask all of you, in
your view, what went right, what went wrong? or, what worked reasonably well and what turned out not to work so well. then we will go back to you marty and ask you, this change in thinking, how deep it went, were americans reassured anew, how did they come to terms with the post frontier world? we start with dan and sarah. there is a snicker about the federal government as a solution here. so, what went right, before we go to what went wrong? >> that's a good question. since we are talking about the federal government and we snickered as you commonly do these days about the federal government. let me convey to you. about that story i have been telling you about the destruction, planetary wide
level discussion of wildlife -- destruction of wildlife that we executed in the american west in the 19th century. our instinct, initially in history, was to blame that, who else, but on the federal government. this story of how the federal government participated in the destruction of western wildlife was first promulgated by former buffalo hunters during the conservation period, who found themselves being -- aspersions were cast at what they had done.
they had killed all these animals, millions of these iconic animals. the former symbol of the united states. a particular buffalo hunter named john cook, in 1905, wrote a memoir called "on the border with the buffalo," and he came up with this explanation for why they had done it. what he essentially argued in his book with that we were the heroes of the advance of civilization and not only that, we were actually the agents of the federal government in destroying all this wildlife. because the federal government wanted these animals destroyed. they engaged in a secret conspiracy between policymakers in washington and the western army to kill all these animals for several reasons, one of which were to force indians onto reservations. another of which was to open the landscape for homesteading. and so the government had secretly done this, he argued.
he even went to invent a famous speech -- you can go online and purchase a t-shirt with lines from this speech on it. it is almost like the george patton speech you saw, george c. scott deliver in that famous movie about george patton. you can almost see the american flag rippling behind, and it is attributed to philip sheridan, who supposedly is going to appear before the texas legislature in the 1870's to prevent the texas legislature from passing a bill to outlaw buffalo hunting. it turns out that philip sheridan, as i discovered in working on this book, had not only never gone to testify before the legislature there, the texas legislature -- which had always struck me as suspicious, which is what i
looked -- they had never considered such a bill. but that explanation that appeared in this memoir by a buffalo hunter, became the explanation that historians and journalists used for the next century, really, to explain what had happened to all these animals in the west. what actually happened, of course, we just let the market work. the federal government had never passed a law to inhibit any kind of wildlife hunting in the united states, and we did not do so until the 1900s. sort of like the south, deciding after the civil war, that the civil war was not caused by slavery was caused, it was a lost cause to preserve state' rights, that made everybody feel better about the civil war. blaming the government made everybody feel better for what we actually had done. individually. through selfish means to all these animals in the 19 century.
-- 19th century. so, what we ended us doing in the early 20th century, is having some success by protecting game animals that we wanted to hunt and deciding that predators were the animals that we needed to exterminate. and we would substitute human hunters for predators like mountain lions, wolves and bears. that gave us our 20th century regulation. so we preserve some of these animals -- not buffalo, which we did save, but we did not allow them to be wild animals in the west in the 20th century -- but we did allow elk and some of these other animals to be wild. those of animals we will save and we will kill all the predators as rapidly as we can and we will substitute human hunters for the predators. thus producing our 20 and 21st century strategy of wildlife management.
>> i am aware of the time is short here. i want to make sure we have time for questions. very quickly, let us talk about water, to your point, sarah. as we all know, you mentioned, in 1902 the national reclamation act is passed. the federal government becomes more engaged, it becomes the agent or engineer of this massive hydraulic project, to bring water where it is needed in the west. as you know, than all the problems in the west are solved, right? >> indeed, i would say that in many ways at the same time one of the great successes and one of the failures of the federal reclamation project. as you all know, living in the west now, the federal government's pursuit of conservation, preservation and reclamation, has made it a dominant presence in the west. you don't live in the west and not be quite aware of the federal government. but you don't turn on the tap or sprinkler pretty much anywhere in the west without being the beneficiary of federal water
management. certainly that made the desert bloom in many ways. often at the expense of the eastern folks who ended up funding it. your tax payer dollars at work in the west were funded by those farmers who are getting put out of business by western agriculture, in some ways. but the challenge, as we come into the present with this massive hydraulic scheme that we have in place is, how do we continue to sustain it? as i was talking yesterday in answer to a question, about utah trying to steal water. climate change is water change. we have become so dependent. we live in places like phoenix, las vegas and los angeles at the blessing of water management.
and now we are going to have to confront the reality that there is just not going to be the kind of water to go around that there has been in the past and that is going to have some serious consequences. >> so the reclamation act is passed with the promise that it is going to restore the jeffersonian ideal, sort of turn the american west into the land of the yeoman farmer. there are suggestions but that is not exactly what happened. if you could talk a little bit about how americans and westerners in particular adjust to the post-frontier world, which is not the jeffersonian west. >> let me answer the question going to the original question what worked and what didn't. where do we see successes on where do we see mistakes? just look no farther than the national parks. ken burns as he said in his documentary they are america's best idea. and anybody who have been to yellowstone, glacier, yosemite are going to agree with that. but those national parks were invented and created with this
fantasy and nostalgia that we have been talking about in mind. the national parks were not empty wilderness areas when there were created, they were areas where native people lived, hunted, fished, worked, etc. but the national park service, or the federal government, before the park service was created after world war i, created those parks and removed indian people. now we go yes preserving that land brilliant idea, but removing the indian people to use it, not such a good idea. right now you can google and look around, see that the national park service is trying very hard to develop new ways to work with native people as comanagers, partners, providers of traditional ecological knowledge that will allow for better park management.
there we see the federal government reckoning very directly with the mistake they made when these parks were invented over a century ago. >> thank you. let's open it up, we have a few minutes. i see terry has questions. >> thanks. i hesitate to throw water on this wonderful nostalgia tour, but i'm going to. it is easy to look back and you know, the bison is the easiest one to point to, even better than the passenger pigeon, although the passenger pigeon went extinct, but the bison did not. i guess maybe because we still see them. we point to those as examples of the tragedy of the commons writ large, and the destruction that comes. two things have to be kept in mind through all that. the tragedy that occurred there was a tragedy of lack of ownership and a lack of
ownership of bison and wildlife, generally. human beings have tried to deal with those kinds of problems. native americans understood how to control the tragedy of the commons through kinds of property institutions, if you will. salmon streams in the pacific northwest that were owned by clans and families. clam gardens in the pacific northwest that were cultivated. these were examples where human ingenuity really allowed people to overcome the tragedy. so we are not like a petri dish. now, yes we did destroyed much of the bison population, because it did not come up with those other alternatives, ownership alternatives. yes, ted turner fences in a lot of bison on his wrenches, but , but thats -- ranches
is not what we think of as wildlife. the other point i think it is important to make, though, is that yes, we lost some buffalo and we lost this nostalgic view, but we got something else. we are rich people today in part because we cultivated the land. we are rich people today because we can produce a lot of food in the west. largely, in many cases, at least as sarah said, beneficiaries of federal water management. i wrote that down, scratched management and wrote down, subsidies. yes federal government subsidies that allow a lot of this. but even have those not come about, we were irrigating part of the west. -- parts of the west. i think we would have done more sensibly without the reclamation project myself, but that is another story. the bottom line here is that i think we ought to be careful of not coming into this nostalgic view without recognizing that we got some things that were pretty darn good.
finally, just one quick point. with regard to national parks, we ask people, who created yellowstone? almost everybody says, teddy roosevelt. he was 14 years old when we created yellowstone. who created, national parks? it was the railroads. they did it for totally profit reasons. they wanted to control, the northern pacific controlled yellowstone. all the major parks have that. >> i realize that that was a hard question to answer quickly. >> yes, a lot of points. from terry who has headed up an organization and bozeman content -- bozeman, montana to develop free enterprise solutions to environmental problems, so well said, i would say this. very good point about native peoples going for 10,000 years, at least 10,000 years, and not eating up the contents of the petri dish in the american west.
they did that in the aftermath, however, of an extraordinary collapse that was even larger than the one we confronted in the 19th century, which we called the plasticine extinctions. whether you believe native people participated, and they probably did, they did witness it. it is something like the way the pueblo indians in the southwest responded to the collapse in the 12th and 13th centuries. they came up with whole new strategies after suffering this tremendous disaster that were far more regulatory and careful and in some respects, -- i have studied bison a lot and the 8000-year interaction between human beings and bison -- one of the arguments that ecologists make, that i tend to believe, is that bison actually were better adapted to life on the great
plains the native people were. that's one of the reasons bison survived after the plasticine extinction. but i think it is a recognition of how the world has to be reshaped after you suffer a disaster. i think that is what native people did and that is what conservation amounted to our the end of the 19th century. we recognized that we had to reshape a way we were using the world and come up with regulatory mechanisms. so i see a commonality between those two things that you pointed out. >> i don't think we will ever be at another conference again where the plasticine extinctions and the conservation policies of the 19th century will be linked together. [laughter] >> i will just say this. one of the things i like to ask in my book and in class and with people in general is, at what
cost? at what cost do we make the choices we do? i don't ask that as an economic question, i ask it as a human question. you are right, there are economic benefits derived from the slaughter of all these animals for a very small group of people, and for a very significant group of people, native people in particular, that is an economic devastation that comes in. free-market environmentalism -- and i know you are a major advocate of it, and i think there are really good ideas that come out of it -- sometimes it fails to consider the human cost of things in favor of economic concern. that is my frustration with the loss of animals with open lands, things like that, is that we don't just want to talk about how that comes out on an accounting ledger. we need to talk about what that means to people and their lives. especially for those of us
living now, we count as part of the calculus of our good life, we value access to public lands, open spaces, clean-air, clean water, and being able to see really spectacular animals. everybody i think, took a selfie with the bison when you came in. and it is a stuffed one. i don't want a stuffed one, i want a real one, and i want to be would to see them. >> i see lots of hands, very limited time. i'm going to ask the people, very quick questions and we will do it as a lightning round. so very quick questions, don't answer them, just sort of keep them in mind, and we will do them as a set answer at the end. so, quickly. >> 30 million bison, how come they did not cause overgrazing, or was there enough grass for 30 million bison?
>> don't answer that. yes? [laughter] >> hard to make this quick, do you see the country like a kid who is running amok, we are a very young country and the addiction to the killing, and the kid running amok versus growing up and then becoming adolescent, do you see in a developmental terms, growing up, how we are going to grow up with responsibility and thinking of others? >> that's not a quick question. [laughter] >> marty you're going to do the bison. >> sarah, i think, is the one who talked about the creation of the public lands system, something that are fond of. -- that we are fond of. i would like you to talk about the funding and the sovereign
citizen movement which is now saying that the public lands system is terrible and we should all return it to the people who live there. >> ok, we will start with bison -- >> children -- >> children, then, bundy. ok. [laughter] >> the reason we think there were between 20 and 30 million bison on the original great plains now, rather than 60 million which you have often heard, is because the 20 million to 30 million is based on the grasslands. the fluctuation between 20 and 30 million is also based on the fact that the climate was constantly changing. for example, there was something called the little ice age which produced a lot of rain and grass and grew the bison populations large. then starting in the middle of the 19th century, there is about a 12 year drought which reduced the carrying capacity down to about 20 million animals, just about the time the market started taking them out and
killing them. it is kind of a natural equilibrium between grass, climate and animals. >> ok, children. [laughter] >> ok. that is a good question. i will just simply say that america is not like a parent taking care of a child or a few children. we are a democracy, and evolving democracy and in perfect democracy. i think we see evolving debates about the epa, climate change in our current political climate that the government still comes from the people. the government reflects the idea of its multiple constituencies. i don't think this is quite the top-down model that your interesting analogies, i think it is a two-way street. -- analogy suggests, i think it
is a two-way street. >> and, the bundys. >> bundy occupation of the bird refuge in refusing to pay grazing fees in southern utah is a modern manifestation of the sagebrush rebellion which first appeared in the 1970s. that is a very ahistorical understanding of the creation, particularly in the west. unless you're one of the original 13 states, you did not own the land first, then the government took it. the federal government bought the west, acquired the west and that created the states. those federal lands have been federal lands, they are at once -- aren't ones that somehow got robbed from the people. they have always been federal lands, and quite frankly, they were lands which in many cases, nobody wanted, like nevada. [laughter]
>> we have any nevadans out here? [laughter] would you like a follow-up? do we have time for one quick question? ok. let me give you all a chance for one final remark, then. to sum it all up, send everyone home happy. [laughter] >> i think we are still trying to figure out how to live properly in the world. it has taken us a long time. we have been on this planet as species for more than 200,000 years, homo sapiens, trying to figure it out ever since we have been here and we are still struggling to do it. as you look at the future, that is how i think we have to confront the future. we have been trying to figure out how to make this planet work for us for a long time, and we haven't quite gotten it right yet, but we are closer.
>> i cannot disagree with a word of that, dan. i would also add as we walk outside for lunch and look at the surrounding environment and drive wherever we are going this afternoon, we have to agree that for all the mistakes the federal government has made, we are fortunate to live with the benefits conferred upon us in terms of western land and resources. >> it is always good to end with a float and sometimes the is nobody better to what than wallace stegner. what he said was, it is hard to be pessimistic about the west, it is the native home of hope. [applause] host: how about that? >> perfect. host: so, are we breaking or going to the next session right away? ok, sit tight and we will follow another thread here with the american indian story, right away.
thank you all, very much. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span three, sunday at 7 p.m. eastern, the 30th anniversary of the tenement museum in new york city and at 8:00 on the presidency, former first lady barbara bush's grandchildren and laura bush reflect on her life and legacy. this american history tv weekend on c-span3. >> next on lectures in history, tiffany gill teaches a class about the role of african-american women in the civil rights movement. she describes how beautiful parlor's were a safe place for women to organize citizens, voter registration drives, and boycotts, and how beauty parlors functioned as their safe space. prof. gill: good afternoon. we are at the point in the