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What Can We Expect in the Wake of the Skywalk?


    Remember the Grand Canyon Skywalk?
    Of course you do. How couldn't you? Well, a columnist at the San Bernardino County Sun is wondering what the fallout will be if this "attraction" turns into a gold mine for the Hualapai tribe.
    And the images John Weeks paints isn't pretty. You can read his thoughts here.


Yes, "the Indians have stolen one of the White Man's ideas." But Weeks argument veers into hyperbole and ignores reality. "Let's face it, if Skywalk turns out to be a commercial gold mine, developers inevitably will start eyeballing other national treasures, with a view to plundering them in the same way." Maybe developers will eyeball national treasures, but Week's worries are unfounded. First, the part of the Grand Canyon with the skywalk is not in a national park. He exaggerates future threats to the national parks while overlooking real, modern threats. "There will be...water skiing on Oregon's Crater Lake." Please. 1. The water is far too cold most of the summer (think Titanic); 2. The Coast Guard regulates boat tours and would be unlikely to allow water skiing; 3. There's no way to get private boats to the lake. The Park Service has stopped such outrageous development in the past. William Steele, founding father of Crater Lake National Park, wanted a tunnel drilled through the caldera and a bridge built to Wizard Island, providing motorists access. He wanted a road up Mt. Scott and a huge parking lot at its summit. The NPS will continue to disallow outrageous development. Week should abandon fantasy and focus instead on the more pernicious and more accepted development in parks: gas-powered boat tours on Crater Lake and the Crater Lake Lodge refurbished with $17 million in tax dollars to help private business profit through renting rooms to the rich. As for the Indians, let them have their tourist trap. It's not in a national park, and it's far more easily removed than huge lodges or visitor centers in national parks.

First of all, I think the Skywalk will be bankrupt in a few years. Who is going to drive miles down a rutted dirt road to pay $25 to walk out on a Skywalk with a crappy view of the canyon? With or without the Skywalk, park lovers have to fight attempts to commercialize park adjacent areas with Indian casinos, airports for park flyovers, and ticky tacky tourist traps.

kath, I don't always agree with you, but with the reservations, I agree that we should be skeptical about what's going on here, though perhaps for different reasons and concerns. The reservations often are highly stratified societies that don't necessarily represent the view of the residents. Their decisions often often come with great social costs to society at large and the poorest in the reservations in particular. Casinos are always essentially redistribution of wealth from poor to wealthy; the thought with the reservations is that it reverses that process in society at large. Unfortunately, it doesn't do so in a meaningful way. It usually just increases the stratification in tribal society and makes the reservations less a commons. Skywalks and other schemes I'm skeptical of; I'm skeptical that this doesn't further the longstanding dynamics on the reservations. On the other hand, I wouldn't be the one to tell the reservations what they can and can't do; I'd want to know what the lowest members in tribal society feel about the situation and whether they've had sufficient input and whether they've considered the largest ramifications of things. I'm almost as scared of the prospect that this might make money for the reservation as I am that it might not, depending on the social structure of the tribe. Without knowing more, then, I can't share more than my skepticism. Also, don't be surprised if this makes money. People have been scammed for decades into paying money to get a view of a very unfinished Crazy Horse in the Black Hills, (a sculpture that hardly makes up for the monstrosity that is Mount Rushmore.) People pay and pay and pay because they don't always know what they won't be seeing until it's too late. In the West, we all know that it's almost part of the lure to make money from tourist traps as part of the joke and myth of the West (that's how Wall Drug has survived despite being almost completely uninteresting otherwise).

Jim Macdonald wrote, "The reservations often are highly stratified societies that don't necessarily represent the view of the residents. Their decisions often often come with great social costs to society at large and the poorest in the reservations in particular." Perhaps this isn't so different from the rest of us. Substitute a few words (forgiving the grammatical hiccup for the sake of the message) and see if it doesn't ring true in our current political climate: "The United States often are highly stratified societies that don't necessarily represent the view of the residents. Their decisions often often come with great social costs to society at large and the poorest citizens in particular."

Yes, Claire, exactly...which is one reason why I'd be the last person to tell a reservation what they can and cannot do. And, it's a reason to try to organize ourselves as people differently, which is what I myself have worked on here, though not with a lot of success (just spurts of hopeful moments and possibilities).

I enjoyed John Weeks article (my mind works the same way?) I lived on a reservation (PNW) for seven years and as RangerX stated it is not a national park but a sovereign nation (albeit interfered with by the good old USA) with its own governmental and social structure. That I understand we borrowed from a bit. Anyway, they have out trumped the whiteman’s ignorance and disregard for nature with this one. I feel the skywalk is an atrocity, an affront to nature, which can easily pitch me into a state of awe that no man made can reach. I am sure that within the Hualapai tribe I am not alone. I feel the same way and have not returned to the Grand Canyon National Park proper since sometime in the early 80's. I like the dirt roads north out of the Peach Springs area, the Hualapai and Havasupai reservations on the canyon edge. I hike down to the river and mosey meander for a good long while. Maybe not as grand, though for me it feels more exact and truthful there. ...and now there is this.

I wanna be there when some loser decides to jump over the glass and spare us his loser gene-pool....SPLAT!!!

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