Yosemite: First Visits, Lasting Impressions--My W

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GIS Level:
  • Beginning
Geographic Scale:
  • State
Target Audience:
  • Secondary
Yosemite NP, California

Parks for the preservation of landscape, wildlife, and history are found around the world today in places as different as Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Kenya. They owe their existence in large part to the example created by the United States beginning with Yosemite in 1864. Yosemite is special in several important ways. Geologically, the park is a series of glacially carved, white granite canyons, many over a thousand feet deep. The most spectacular of these is Yosemite Valley itself. Archeologically, humans have populated Yosemite on and off going back almost to the end of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago. Villages of Miwok and Paiute natives existed in Yosemite until shortly after first contact with European settlers in the 1850's. Their legends provide an important and interesting perspective on many of the park's most spectacular features. And, historically, Yosemite has provided an important laboratory for the evolution of the national park idea. Writers like John Muir and Frederick Law Olmstead, artists like Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and Chris Jorgenson, and photographers like Carlton Watkins helped acquaint potential visitors and legislators with Yosemite's wonders in the late 1800s. Early Yosemite business people like Thomas Hutchings and David and Jeannie Curry helped shape how Yosemite was made accessible to visitors. And far sighted national leaders like Teddy Roosevelt brought a broad vision of preserving special pieces of the American environment. Materials for download here include the GIS based activity that is part of a larger collection of Yosemite teaching resources found at: http://www.intimeandplace.org/Yosemite/ The complete collection also includes written, photo, and static map items and related activities. The goal of the unit is for students to gain an understanding of the early history of the "national park" idea by examining the emergence of Yosemite as a park. The GIS activities allow a geographic exploration of the park by inviting students to travel the trails of Yosemite with early explorers, visitors, and the U.S. Calvary. Sample lesson materials are included here, but teachers are encouraged to adapt the resources in the collection to best meet theirs and their students’ needs.

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