Living Universe or GeoFacts: stone arches in Utah National Parks - epistemologici divides in heritage environmental communication

Richard W. Stoffle, Christopher Sittler, Kathleen van Vlack, Evelyn Pickering, Heather H. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this essay we contrast the GeoFacts about large stone arches that derive from the science of geology, with the GeoFacts about large stone arches that derive from the cultural beliefs of Native Americans. Geologists interpret arches as inert stones that have been eroded away by natural forces, while Native Americans see arches as having been formed by the Creator as stone portals designed to provide travel to other dimensions and are key features of their heritage. Holders of each perspective draw on conflicting epistemological premises which support the truth (the Veritas] of their stipulated GeoFacts. The 'epistemological divide' that these premises create is a significant barrier to heritage environmental communication in general, and specifically to discussions about the appropriate meanings, management, and uses of stone arches. This analysis is based on 484 ethnographic interviews (168 at Arches National Park and 316 at Canyonlands National Park) with representatives of six tribes and pueblos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Intangible Heritage
Volume15
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Canyonlands
  • Heritage environmental communication
  • Hopi
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe (ICH Domain]
  • Living universe
  • National Parks-Arches
  • Native Americans-Paiute
  • Navajo
  • Puha'gant
  • Sacred sites
  • Space travel
  • Stone arches as GeoFacts
  • Utah
  • Ute
  • Zuni

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Cultural Studies
  • Museology

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