Although John Muir has been credited with being instrumental in the formation of our network of national parks, his history is not without controversy. The biggest concern appears to be his approach to the Native American people that he met. In his early years, especially during his 1,000 mile trek, his attitudes towards them was harsh. He was particularly scathing of the tribes he met, who he considered dirty and lazy. At this young age, despite suggestions that he had some sympathies with their situation, he did not appear to understand or appreciate the Trail of Tears ordeal and the impact that this had had on the Cherokee people he met.
As he aged and developed his spiritual connection with nature, Muir’s attitudes softened significantly. Towards the end of his life he recognised that the values he had developed had much in common with those of Native American tribes, particularly those related to his beliefs regarding spirituality and the natural world. He formed closer relationship with the tribes he met in Alaska than he did with the Cherokee.
Photo Courtesy Al Golub Photography
Presentation to Stanislaus County – Highway renaming “John Muir Highway”