In this episode of season six, Drunk History gets drunk and talks about national parks and how they came to become such a valuable part of America today (Teddy Roosevelt. It was definitely Teddy Roosevelt. That’s how . . .but keep reading!). The episode shows that much like me, most people think old T.R. was responsible for all protections of all parks but other main players had a hand in protecting land as a natural resource for the future.
In the first segment, hosted by Steve Berg and Derek Waters, we learn about the foundation of the National Park Service and the events that led John Muir to convince Teddy Roosevelt to preserve Yosemite. Berg is delightfully serious as he describes rich industrialists chopping down trees and hating on nature for money. There was something about blood and pentagrams, but that probably wasn’t historically accurate. After writing an essay on the subject, Muir finds that El Presidente has been following his writing and wants to know more. They experience the wonders of the wild and the healing, calming aspects of nature causing Teddy to sign the Antiquities Act in 1909. The moral of this story? CAMPING. Do it.
In the next segment Daryl Johnson tells the story of the Occupation of Alcatraz by Native Americans with guest-host Eric Edelstein. In 1969 the American Indian Center of San Fran has a fire, leaving the group without a home. The Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1878 says that Native Americans can occupy abandoned federal property, so they move on Alcatraz. Payment in the form of glass beads and cloth is offered and we see what a petty level x 1000 looks like (it looks good, guys. It looks fair and just). More and more people move in and by Thanksgiving 1969 there are 400 residents. The government retaliated with fires, power outages, and other methods of making the group uncomfortable. After two years the Native Americans are removed but their legacy and graffiti remains as the prison is turned into a national park. NEXT!
In the final segment, Tess Lynch tells the story of journalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas who fought to protect the Everglades. “Picture it. Florida. 1920.” As South Florida developed rapidly there was a rush to build on unoccupied lands in order to rake in the cash as people moved into the region. The Everglades are in danger of becoming a dollar store so an early supporter of the ACLU, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, is brought in to check out the area to fall in love with it and become its champion. She fights against the building of malls and other capitalist ventures for thirteen years and even writes a book about the Everglades, “River of Grass” that convinces many other Americans of its value. She eventually meets with Nixon in the Everglades and the is land preserved for future Americans.
Today the kids of Marjory Stoneman Douglas fight for the safety of us all in their fight to end school shootings around the nation, in the tradition of she who came before. Solid.
Cast for this episode includes Q’orianka Kilcher as LaNada Means, Thomas Middleditch as John Muir, Adam Beach as Richard Oakes, David Koechner as Theodore Roosevelt, Dallas Goldtooth as John Trudell, Zahn McClarnon as Adam Fortunate Eagle and Jayma Mays as Marjory Stoneman Douglas.