Lessons From The Past Could Save Parks’ Cultural Resources

August 17, 2016
Photo: Saving Cultural Resources In National Parks(AP Photo/Margaret Matthews)
The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

In the early 20th century, the Chumash, a Native-American tribe living in Central California, began each year waiting for the "battle" between the coyote and the sun. If the coyote won, the tribe would experience a good year. If the sun was victorious, there would be drought.

"Ask yourself -- how would we respond to that today?" says Marcy Rockman, an anthropologist with the National Park Service. "Would we organize our lives differently if every year when the ball drops in Times Square at New Year, if it cracks to the left, it's gonna be a good year on Wall Street, or if it cracks to the right, it will be bad. Would we think differently, are we organized enough to deal with that level of uncertainty?"

Rockman says studying how people functioned in the past could be a key to solving present and future concerns like climate change. She spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.