Karen L. WoodCourse taught by: Karen L. Wood

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado is multi-layered – in many ways.  Geologically complex, historically contested, biologically diverse, it is a place at the center of competing claims and histories.  National park, sacred ground of the Hopis and the Zunis, wilderness area, archeological treasure, tourist attraction, and vital source of water for the desert southwest and beyond, Grand Canyon has historic, symbolic, economic and developmental importance that manifests in clashes of cultures, interests and communities.

This colloquium will explore Grand Canyon in its many aspects, noting its role in the rise of conservation movements, the development of the desert Southwest, and the struggle among various claimants to the land and the water, and will explore the question of how we understand wilderness and its uses.  Through reading, discussion and writing, students will explore questions such as:  What are the competing theories about how the canyon was formed, and why is there no scientific consensus? Which groups should have access to the Grand Canyon?  Tribes whose sacred ground lies within the canyon?  Nature enthusiasts?  Tourists?  River-runners? Commercial outfitters?  How should the fragile ecosystem be protected, while still allowing access?  What is the ongoing impact of mining in the canyon (and on the rim)?  Who owns the rights to the Colorado River, and how does a changing climate impact those water rights? We will explore these questions through texts that include geological studies, maps, archeological materials, conservation and wilderness writings, creation stories of the Zuni and Hopi peoples, virtual hikes, and a new backcountry management plan for Grand Canyon National Park, the first such plan issued since 1988.