For the past few decades there have been repeated calls from within and without the National Park Service for more inclusive interpretation in the park system. Concurrently there has been great concern about the lack of diversity among visitors to Park Service units. The 2009 Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, repeatedly cited in the popular press, reported that recent visitors to a Park Service unit were “disproportionately” “white, non-Hispanic.” This paper looks to problematize this survey and its conclusions that concern for the environment is predominantly white, that attendance at NPS sites is tantamount to national belonging, and that future support for NPS is threatened as the United States becomes majority nonwhite. The paper also looks to question the link between the racial and ethnic identity of visitors and “relevant” interpretation.
- © 2016 by The Regents of the University of California and the National Council on Public History