John Reynold's Preface to the "Draft Secretarial Report to Congress"

As a new nation, the United States took virtually all of the ancestral lands of our Native American predecessors leaving them with little foundation for their own distinct cultures to survive. As a visionary nation, we invented National Parks so that America's most evocative places could be preserved forever. Often those Parks, and the lands most important to Native Americans, are one and the same. Such is the case in the Death Valley area where much of the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland and Death Valley National Park not only coincide physically but are highly valued by the Tribe, the National Park Service, and the American public.

If we resolve to make a better nation for our children, a nation that recognizes the promises of America's best ideas and is not bound to the thought that the decisions of the past are the best that we can do, then we have a unique opportunity to rectify the existing situation where the Tribe lives on its ancestral lands without the ability to achieve self-determination and economic independence.

Consequently, we resolved in Death Valley, and in the surrounding ancestral homelands of the Tribe, to value the beliefs and needs of both nations, to be fair to the Timbisha Shoshone and to the people of the United States. We seek to restore lands on which the Timbisha Shoshone can exercise their sovereign tribal rights guaranteed by our Constitution and courts, and to develop lasting cooperative arrangements with the Tribe. We do so in the context of a better and more holistic vision of what Death Valley National Park and other parts of the Tribe's ancestral lands can become with an expanded and renewed tribal presence and the commitment to such a presence by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

John J. Reynolds
Director, Pacific West Region (Retired)
National Park Service

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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