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Obamas' Yosemite Visit Prompts Call for Cultural Diversity in Parks

The Obama family is visiting Yosemite National Park this weekend, and the Next 100 Coalition is asking him to promote cultural diversity on federal lands. (schick/morguefile)
The Obama family is visiting Yosemite National Park this weekend, and the Next 100 Coalition is asking him to promote cultural diversity on federal lands. (schick/morguefile)
June 17, 2016

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- President Obama, the First Lady and their daughters are visiting Yosemite National Park this weekend, and a group known as the "Next 100 Coalition" is hoping he'll touch on the need for cultural diversity in managing the nation's public lands. The visit comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service this summer.

Xavier Morales, executive director of the Praxis Project, a nonprofit group that promotes environmental justice, praised the president for creating Cesar Chavez National Monument in the nearby Central Valley, but said there's much more to be done.

"By not protecting areas of significance of diverse histories," Morales said, "we're really not telling the full story of the United States."

Rangers at Yosemite tell the story of Chinese cook Tie Sing, who fed members of the U.S. Geological Survey in the early 1900s as they explored Yosemite Valley. They also recall the work of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-African-American regiment stationed in the park around that same time.

Steve Dunwoody, California director of the Vet Voice Foundation, said the nation is increasingly diverse, and the parks ought to reflect that.

"We'd love for the president to really take up the cause of advancing diversity in our public lands that cover all the groups that enjoy them," he said, "Native Americans, Latinos, African Americans, veterans, young, old -- everyone."

Coalition members said they also would like Obama to issue a presidential memorandum on the occasion of the Park Service's centennial on Aug. 25.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA