How Hawai‘i Forces Us to Redefine the Meaning of ‘Native’

An Environmental Historian Argues That Being Indigenous Is More Alchemy Than Fact

I was born in the Territory of Hawai‘i, three weeks before statehood. As a kid I played in its dirt, ran around in the rain (my hometown of Hilo is one of the two or three rainiest cities in the United States), clambered up trees and vines, and swam in the spectacular ocean waters.

I was of the islands; yet I was not. My dad was from Chicago and my mom from Salt Lake City. Certainly, if anyone had asked me, I would have replied that I was a native—after all, …

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The Photographer in the Garden

How the Camera Conveys the Ways We Cultivate Nature

Gardens are the birthplace of some of our most enduring myths and creation stories. Many religions posit the idea of a lush, sacred place where humans once dwelt in harmony …

America’s National Parks Were Never Wild and Untouched

Montana's Emblematic Glacier National Park Reveals the Impact of Human History and Culture

In 1872, Congress created the first national park, Yellowstone, so that its scenic features would be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and …

What America’s National Parklands Taught My Three Boys About Their Country

A Michigan Teacher Wanted His Sons to Roam the Nation's Expanses, Grasp Its Opportunities, and Understand Its Injustices

Last August, my sons and I paddled canoes through the Missouri River Breaks National Monument in eastern Montana. The Breaks is remote country, a prairie river cutting through coulees and …

What One New England Tree Can Tell Us About the Earth’s Future

By Studying a Single Massachusetts Oak, I Recorded How Climate Change Is Confusing Nature

Trees are up to more than we think. Belying their image as mute, unmoving, and solitary, trees are not just standing there. They move. Breathe. Communicate. Politically astute and nimbly …

How the Chesapeake Bay Formed American Identity

It's Been an Artery Through Which Democracy and Capitalism Flowed

When Captain Christopher Newport sailed into the Chesapeake Bay in 1607 to establish the first permanent English colony in North America, his goal was not freedom.

In that way, Newport, the …