Michael WelshOct 22, 2023
Big Bend National Park
Mexico, the United States, and a Borderland Ecosystem
University of Nevada Press 2021
National Parks are sites where politics, cultures, and ecology converge. University of Northern Colorado historian Michael Welsh argues that, at Big Bend National Park in West Texas, a fourth dynamic is at play: diplomacy.
In Big Bend National Park: Mexico, the United States, and a Borderland Ecosystem (U Nevada Press, 2021), Welsh tells the story of how this place - isolated even in its Indigenous history - came to be a site of diplomatic wrangling between the United States and Mexico. Situated along the border of the two nations, Big Bend has been a prism through which both Americans and Mexicans have seen the relationship between their two nations. Big Bend's story thus is one of colonization, conservation and changing American ideas about wilderness, but also about international diplomacy, war, and peace. Big Bend has been many things to many people, and as Welsh argues, few National Park sites have the same dramatic and complex history as this arid range of Texas mountains along the Rio Grande.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.