Writing in the New York Times Magazine, Jennifer Percy describes Fear of the Federal Government in the Ranchlands of Oregon. Try though she might, her east coast acculturation won’t let her quite get into the heads of the folks in towns where she spent her childhood.
They visited Yellowstone Nation Park and saw, they said, two million acres of natural resources gone to waste. “At least one day a year,” Robin said, “we ought to be able to go in and take advantage.”
Emily thought the trees were too close together. “Didn’t look healthy,” she said, “because they don’t log.”
“And look at all those buffalo,” Robin said. “Can’t some of them be used for meat?”
“You wanted to eat them?” I said.
Why not Jennifer? American Indians do.
I tried to suggest a lack of understanding between rural and urban people, but Robin stopped me. “No,” she said. “We just want different things.” The statement was cold and clear. It suggested the end of reconciliation. “We don’t want you breathing down our back,” she said. “Bottom line is we don’t trust you. We don’t trust you to look out for our best interests. An in truth we don’t even know that you know how to. A lot of people were saying this was about saving the bunnies and butterflies, but that’s not what is is about.”
Robin sat over her empty plate. “It’s about getting people off the land,” she said. “It’s dark.”
Environmentalists with national influence have never been interested in reconciliation, but poor Jennifer won’t admit it.