National Parks for New Audiences

"Consistency in presentation content and tenor across interpretive media thus remains an issue warranting attention by park administrators." Coslett, Daniel E., and Manish Chalana. "National Parks for New Audiences. Diversifying Interpretation for Enhanced Contemporary Relevance." The Public Historian 38, no. 4: 101-128. November 2016.

While the staff at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site have made several strides in presenting the viewpoints of both the Native Americans and the missionaries, the inconsistency is frustrating. For instance, the authors note that one sign still illustrates the attack on the Whitmans with a floor plan showing the exact locations of their deaths. While the easier route would be to remove this sign and replace it with something less graphic, it is also an opportunity to address how the events of the killings have been treated in the past. This same approach is taken with the audio tour and could easily (although possibly impeded by bureaucracy) be applied to the signage. The authors mention that staff are sensitive to these issues and would like to see changes. They also suggest a more diverse staff. Looking briefly at Canadian websites (due to some shared experiences with Native Americans or First Nations), they offer cultural sensitivity training for many of their government employees. For example, the police are offered a course called Aboriginal and First Nations Awareness. Similar training for staff at national parks and sites in the US could also be helpful.

 

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