Friday, December 10, 2010
Cultural Resource Wars, in brief
The ongoing dispute that has been roaring since Velma Bronn Johnston is how I know that horses are important to America. If they were not, the fight to preserve them would not be so intense. Cultural resources are important for the identity of people and they are always surrounded by extreme emotions. The horses are no different. Americans identify with them. They are an iconic figure of what the west once was, freedom, our history. Their existence value outweighs the value of many other rangeland values. This is where the conflict has clashed.
Arguably, there are two, or more, cultural resource wars occurring. The free-roaming horses and cattle are the two most disputed. Yes, cattle are a cultural resource as well. They define many western people of the Great Basin. The cow. The range. Wide open spaces. And then the horses. Freedom. The old west. A living legend. It is a war to decide whose resource has more value on rangelands.
The cattle ranchers depend on their cattle for their livelihood, therefore the rangelands are very important for their use. The horse activists depend on their horses because they are central to their identity, therefore the horse's existence on the ranges is very important. Between these two resources, angry words and clashing values collide.
I will not try to decide whose resource is more beneficial or valuable to the common American. I am simply writing this for my own benefit in order to help myself understand both sides of the issue at the heart. On either side is justification and the threat of identity loss. Understanding this further will help me interact with both sides of this great debate. We can all hope that in the future a solution will be discovered that benefits both the cattle ranchers the horse people of America.