On Thursday, Sept. 29, the Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X]. program held its weekly guest speaker event in the Gilbert Great Hall at the Hunter Alumni Center. This week’s guest speaker was Dr. Megan Kate Nelson, who spoke about the history of Yellowstone National Park.
Nelson is a writer and historian who focuses on the history of the United States. Her presentation featured highlights of her latest book “Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America,” which was published on March 1. Students and guests were invited to a book signing after the speaking portion of the presentation.
During the event, Nelson told the history of the Yellowstone Act, including the expedition and settlement of the national park area, as well as how the Civil War affected the work and time it took to accomplish them. She shared the stories of people like Ferdinand Hayden, Thomas Moran and Chief Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, also known as Sitting Bull. To support her presentation, she shared pieces of her research, including letters, paintings, photographs and more.
The history of Yellowstone National Park is a complex one. Nelson says the history of the park is a “perfect metaphor” for the narrative of the United States itself.
“It is not meant to undermine or contradict the love that we have for places like Yellowstone or our wonder at their beauty,” said Nelson. “Instead, I think it is really necessary that all Americans understand this kind of hard history in order to appreciate the beauty of these places and to understand the fullness, particularly, of Yellowstone’s past and present.”
Article and Photos by: Andrea Rodgers