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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  December 26, 2011 8:30am-9:00am EST

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its arm for joy. coyote: no one was more thankful for the army's presence than john muir, for whom the sierra nevada was the range of light--mountains, he wrote, "that were throbbing "and pulsing with the heartbeats of god." woman: i think john muir understood, as perhaps no one else has, how essential beauty is--natural beauty is to us. without beauty, we have no kind of, lubrication of the human spirit. we would just be dead, and that's really what drove him. that's what fueled him. coyote: clambering ecstatically over the mountainsides, muir had become a self-taught expert in glaciers, a keen observer and lover of everything he encountered, from the tiniest specks of lichen on a rock to the mighty sequoias.
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and through his magazine articles, he had emerged as a wilderness prophet a nationally kno for preserving the last remaining vestiges of america's virgin forests and unspoiled lands. man as john muir: mere destroyers--tree killers wool and mutton men, spreading death and confusion in the fairest groves and gardens ever planted. let the government hasten to cast them out and make an end of them. any fool can destroy trees. they cannot run away. and if they could, they would still be destroyed--chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides. s through all the wonderful, eventful centuries since christ's time and long before that, god has cared for these
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trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches and a thousand straining leveling tempests and floods but he cannot save them from fools. only uncle sam can do that. coyote: yosemite's high country had been designated a national park in 1890, but the valley itself remained under the control of a california state commission and their political appointees, a group of "blundering, plundering moneymaking vote sellers," muir said. he wanted it all transferred back to the federal government. only then, he believed would it be safe from ruin. in 1892, to help promote yosemite's protection, muir and a small group of prominent californians formed a new organization.
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they called it the sierra club. muir enthusiastically agreed to serve as its president, hoping, he said, that "we will be able to do something "for wildness and make the mountains glad." [scattered applause] man: in the 19th century when the census bureau would do its census, it would draw a line that's the frontier line, and proudly say it marches westward, and their definition of it had this wonderful phrase. it would say, in the last 10 years, this many million of acres have been "redeemed from wilderness by "the hand of man." "redeemed from wilderness by the hand of man." in other words, a virgin forest is redeemed when it's cut down.
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a beautiful mountain stream is redeemed when the miners are turned loose in it. that symbolized what our view of nature was as we were rushing across the continent. that's totally the opposite of what john muir would say. wilderness isn't redeemed by man. man is redeemed by wilderness. man: to know you are the first to set foot in homes that have been deserted for centuries is a strange feeling. it is as though unseen eyes watched, wondering what aliens were invading their sanctuaries and
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why. the dust of centuries filled the rooms and rose in thick clouds at every movement. al wetherill. coyote: a few months before rudyard kipling visited yellowstone, cowboys searching for stray cattle in southwestern colorado along the edge of a high plateau known as mesa verde, came upon the ruins of an ancient city tucked into the side of a cliff. using a tree trunk and their lariats, they improvised a ladder and descended for a closer look. man as al wetherill: it was like treading holy ground to go into those peaceful-looking homes of a vanished people. things were arranged in the rooms as if people might just
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have been out visiting somewhere. coyote: in quick succession, they soon came across even more ruins nestled into the remote canyon walls of mesa verde and gave names to them all. cliff palace. spruce tree house. balcony house. it was the largest concentration ever found of the cliff dwellings--built, occupied, and then mysteriously deserted nearly a thousand years earlier by the ancestors of some of the modern pueblo indians of the southwest. man as al wetherill: we knew that if we did not break into that charmed world, someone else would sometime--someone who might not love and respect those emblems of antiquity as we did. coyote: the cowboys who discovered the ruins were the wetherills--5 brothers from a family of quakers who had
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moved to colorado from kansas 8 years earlier. the oldest was richard who encouraged them all to spend every free moment digging among the ruins, hoping to sell their discoveries to museums in big cities. man as al wetherill: we had started in as just ordinary pothunters but as work progressed along that sort of questionable business, we developed quite a bit of scientific knowledge by careful work and comparisons. coyote: one day a stranger showed up, a young swedish nobleman with an interest in archaeology-- gustaf nordenskiold. when the wetherills showed him the ruins, his enthusiasm, one of the brothers remembered, increased almost beyond his control. for two months, from sunup to sundown, he kept the wetherill
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brothers busy, teaching them more scientific methods. he showed them how to use a mason's trowel instead of a spade, digging slowly and carefully to reveal a relic without damaging it. he insisted on labeling and photographing everything and often saved items that no other archaeologist of the time would have kept-- wood ash from fire pits, dust and trash from the floors, even dried pieces of human excrement that one day might help determine what the ancient puebloans had been eating so long ago. in all he amassed hundreds of items which he intended to ship home to sweden. but when his pack animals, loaded down with artifacts reached the railway station in durango, nordenskiold was immediately arrested. man: the basic problem was this foreign relics, our bowls, our
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pots, and we're not gonna allow that. it's all right for we americans to steal them, but it's not all right for those foreigners to do it. gustaf's lawyer asked the judge, under what law are we arresting him? and there was no law. there was no law at all, so they couldn't stop him. they couldn't stop anybody and that probably sparked some interest--why isn't there a law? coyote: nordenskiold was released and got to take his huge shipment home to scandinavia, where he published the first scientific study of the cliff dwellers. but the controversy had brought worldwide attention to mesa verde and to the fact that its treasures were completely unprotected. ei man: we have seen the indian
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and the game retreat before the white man and the cattle and beheld the tide of immigration move forward which threatens before long to leave no portion of our vast territory unbroken by the farmer's plow or untrodden by his flocks. there is one spot left--a single rock about which this tide will break and past which it will sweep, leaving it undefiled by the unsightly traces of civilization. here in this yellowstone park, the large game of the west may be preserved from extermination in this, their last refuge. george bird grinnell. coyote: by the 1890s few americans understood as keenly as george bird grinnell, the editor and owner
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of "forest and stream" magazine, how fearful the price had been for the nation's relentless expansion across the continent. raised on the estate of the famous painter and john james audubon at the north end of manhattan grinnell could remember spotting a bald eagle from his bedroom window and watching immense flocks of passenger pigeons darkening the sky from horizon to horizon as they passed overhead. traveling across kansas, he had once encountered a buffalo herd so vast that his train was forced to stop for 3 hours while the beasts crossed the tracks. he had hunted elk in nebraska when elk could still be found on the plains, ridden with the pawnees in areat buffalo chase as the indians brought down their prey with bows and arrows. now all that and so much more suddenly
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seemed gone or on the verge of disappearing. passenger pigeons had been so systematically killed that a bird once numbering in the hundreds of millions had been reduced to a handful, and soon the death of a solitary bird in a cincinnati zoo would bring an end to the species' existence. the hide-hunters had been equally effective with the buffalo. by the mid-1880s, the last of the great free-roaming herds had been slaughtered. now the only wild herd left in the country was in yellowstone national park, estimated at only a few hundred animals. man as george bird grinnell: for 4 centuries, we have been killing and marketing game destroying it as rapidly and as thoroughly as we knew how, and making no provision toward replacing the supply.
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we are just beginning to ask one another how we may preserve the little that remains for ourselves and our children. coyote: grinnell regularly used the pages of "forest and stream" to try to point americans in a new direction. it wasn't that he was against hunting. in fact, he loved to hunt. grinnell just feared that without wise management, there would be nothing left for hunters to shoot. he proposed the creation of a new organization aimed at stopping the heedless killing of wild birds, "in honor," grinnell wrote "of the man who did more to "teach americans about birds of their own land than any other "who ever lived." he named the group the audubon society. and when grinnell published a mildly critical review of theodore roosevelt's book chronicling his own western
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adventures, the young author burst into grinnell's office to confront him. the two men turned the awkward moment into the beginning of a lasting friendship and together formed the boone and crockett club to promote what they called "the manly "sport of hunting." duncan: but grinnell had other, larger issues in mind that he wanted to steer teddy roosevelt toward, and i think over time he became something of a mentor to roosevelt of taking this energetic guy this guy who was a political star, a rising political star, and gradually pointing him in directions that were clearly in roosevelt's heart but needed that little tilt from george bird grinnell to bring them to fruition. coyote: as president of the new club, theodore roosevelt was increasingly drawn into grinnell's battles, including the longstanding crusade to keep yellowstone as pristine
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as possible. it was a constant fight. there were repeated attempts in congress to reduce the park's size or open it up to greater commercial exploitation. roosevelt helped defeat them all. but despite those successes, there was still no federal law giving yellowstone's caretakers clear authority to protect its wildlife including its dwindling herd of wild buffalo. on march 13, 1894, two troopers out on patrol in yellowstone heard shots in the distance and hurried in that direction. [gunshot] soon they came across several buffalo carcasses. a man was hunched over one of them, so busily skinning it that he didn't realize the troopers were there until one of them was beside him with a drawn gun.
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the poacher was edgar howell and he had been methodically killing as many buffalos as he could, planning to haul out their heads for sale to a montana taxidermist. as luck would have it, a reporter named emerson hough on assignment for "forest and stream," was also in the park with a photographer to do an article about yellowstone in the winter. when the poacher bragged that the worst punishment he could receive for his crime was expulsion from the park and the loss of only 26 dollars' worth of equipment, hough realized he had stumbled onto a great story and quickly telegraphed it to grinnell in newor.k ci.nt grinnell knew just what to do with it. schullery: grinnell just pulled out all the stops. he ran the story in "forest and stream." he was in contact with everybody he knew who might be able to wake up, you know, the sleeping giant
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the american public, and make them care about this, and he succeeded. coyote: within a week, legislation was working its way through congress authorizing regulations that would finally protect the park, its geysers, and its wildlife. on may 7, 1894, less than two months after howell's capture, president grover cleveland signed the bill into law. [birds chirping] schullery: george bird grinnell and theodore roosevelt and the other defenders of yellowstone were thinking in ecosystem terms before anybody was using the term. they saw places like yellowstone as reservoirs. they used the term "reservoir." it was a reservoir for wildlife. i think if the opportunity presen
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of howell had been missed, we would have lost the bison. they were so close to gone. man: gentlemen, why in heaven's name this haste? you have time enough. why sacrifice the present to the future, fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people? in europe, we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy. you dream of your posterity, but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age and envy those who first
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burst into this silent splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees and lined these waters with busy wharves. why, then, seek to complete, in a few decades, what took the other nations of the world thousands of years? why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? you have opportunity such as mankind has never had before and may never have again. lord james bryce. man: the first duty of the human race is to control the earth it lives upon.
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the first principle of conservation is development, the use of natural resources now existing on this continent for the benefit of the people who live here now. gifford pinchot. coyote: gifford pinchot was a graduate of yale who had studied forestry in germany and france and returned as the first american to declare himself a professional forester. he and john muir had met in 1896 and in the beginning enjoyed each other's company camping together on the rim of the grand canyon. but while the two men agreed that america's forests were being rapaciously destroyed, they ultimately parted company on the solution. muir considered forests sacred. he wanted them treated as parks with logging, grazing, and hunting prohibited.
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pinchot didn't agree. he wanted forests protected, too, but he believed the best way to do it was to manage their use, not leave them alone. his favorite saying was "the greatest good "for the greatest number." man as john muir: much is said on questions of this kind about the greatest good for the greatest number, but the greatest number is too often found to be number one. it is never the greatest number in the common meaning of the term that makes the greatest noise and stir on questions mixed with money. complaints are made in the name of poor settlers and miners, while the wealthy corporations are kept carefully hidden in the background. let right, commendable industry be fostered, but as to these goths and vandals of the wilderness who are spreading black death in the fairest
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woods god ever made, let the government up and at 'em. cronon: we often tell stories about the origins of se the american conservation movement by setting john muir and gifford pinchot in counterpoint with each other. often in those stories john muir is the hero and gifford pinchot is the villain. in fact, they represent, i think, two sides of one coin. muir is the figure who celebrates the sacred in nature--the wildness, the otherness of nature, that which we need to protect if we are not to contaminate things that are nonhuman with our own human agendas. pinchot, on the other hand is about a conservation that celebrates sustainability. it's about keeping the roots of our material lives in the natural world in such a way that we don't destroy nature as we use nature for our own livelihood. coyote: congress and the administration of president grover cleveland sided with pinchot, who was appointed
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the nation's chief forester. national forests would become part of the department of agriculture, used and managed like a crop, not preserved like a temple. but if muir could not prevail on the future of all national forests, he tried to salvage at least a partial victory by protecting one forest as a national park. it was in western washington state within sight of the cities of seattle and tacoma, the ancient homeland of nearly a dozen indian tribes, including the cowlitz, nisqually, puyallup, and yakima, who called it tahoma, the big mountain where the waters begin. white settlers called it mount rainier. man as john muir: altogether this is the richest subalpine garden i ever found, a perfect floral elysium.
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the icy dome needs not a man's care, but unless the reserve is guarded, the flower bloom will soon be killed, and nothing of the forest will be left but black stump monuments. coyote: a broad coalition, including the sierra club, the national geographic society, and the northern pacific railroad, worked hard with muir for more than 5 years, and on march 2, 1899, mount rainier became the nation's fifth national park. man: when on the streets i meet young girls and matrons with their kindly faces and see the egrets in their bonnets and hats, i cannot help feeling that these daughters of eve do not know how
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these feathers were obtained. these plumes only grow while the bird is rearing its young, and i believe that if most of the women who wear them knew they were obtained by shooting the mother on her nest they would be ashamed to keep them, even in secret, much less to display them on the public streets. john f. lacey. coyote: for centuries, the nation's greatest breeding ground for its most beautiful plumed birds was southern florida, where the fresh waters of lake okeechobee drained slowly toward the gulf of mexico, through cypress swamps and mangrove forests and the biggest saw grass marsh in the world, the everglades. egrets had become more valuable per ounce tha and nearly 95% of florida's shorebirds had been killed by
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plume hunters. more than 5 million birds a year were perishing to satisfy the demand of the latest fashion trend--using bird feathers to decorate women's hats. strolling the streets of new york for part of an afternoon, one ornithologist counted 542 feathered hats, representing 40 different species. some hats included an entire stuffed bird. man as george bird grinnell: fashion decrees feathers and feathers it is. this condition of affairs must be something of a shock to the leaders of the audubon society, who were sanguine enough to believe that the moral idea represented by their movement would be enough to influence society at large. george bird grinnell.
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coyote: the audubon society had done its best to try to persuade women not to buy such hats, even promoted the sale of featherless hats called audubonetts decorated with ribbons. it didn't work, and the millenary industry, based principally in new york city used its influence in congress to defeat a series of national laws aimed at stopping the slaughter. then an unlikely champion stepped forward. man as john f. lacey: we have a wireless telegraph a thornless cactus a seedless orange, and a coreless apple. let us now have a birdless hat. john f. lacey. coyote: as the republican party began fracturing at the start of the 20th century into a progressive wing and a group of die-hard conservatives known as
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stand-pat republicans, representative john f. lacey of oskaloosa, iowa counted himself with those opposed to change. but when it came to defending wildlife or saving america's remaining unspoiled lands, lacey's definition of conservative placed him not only outside his fellow stand-patters but in the vanguard of even the most progressive politicians of the day. man as john f. lacey: the first settlers found this continent a storehouse of energy and national wealth, but we have not been content with using these resources. we have wasted them as reckless prodigals. for more than 300 years, destruction was called improvement. mankind must conserve the resources of nature, or the world will, at no distant day, become as barren as a sucked orange.
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coyote: it had been lacey, working with george bird grinnell and theodore roosevelt, who pushed through the bill that finally gave government officials the tools they needed to protect america's last wild buffalo herd in yellowstone. now, after years of ceaseless effort, he won passage ah of another landmark, the lacey bird and game act of 1900. soon, government agents were confiscating huge shipments of bird skins and feathers. but the lacey act did not put an end to plume hunting entirely, especially in the lawless everglades. 5 years after the bill's passage, a game warden was murdered by poachers. 3 years after that another one was gunned down. some people began thinking that the uniquely abundant array of wildlife in southern florida would never be safe