Conflicting Values, Contested Terrain : Mormon, Paiute and Wilderness Advocate Values of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
University of California, Berkeley
This dissertation explores the historical origin of divergent religious, cultural and moral values of the relationship between humans and nature and the influence of these disparate values on contemporary conflict over federal land management. Modeled after the extended case method, this research links and reconstructs related, but as yet distinct, theories in environmental ethics, environmental history and conflict resolution. This case study investigates the religious, cultural and ethical values of the landscape held by Paiute Indians, descendants of Mormon pioneers, and active wilderness advocates in conflict over the designation and management of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) in southern Utah. For each group the origin, expression and evolution of wilderness values are considered with special attention to the interactions between individual, collective and institutional values. The resulting narratives relate cultural and social history to religious and ethical values of the proper relationship between humans and nature, linking these to contemporary land use conflicts and distinct features of the desert landscape and ecosystems of the region. When seen through an historical lens, the highly polarized conflicts over GSENM management and wilderness designation state-wide in Utah continue a long and deeply seated contention between Mormon settlers, the federal government and indigenous people over the use of and access to resources. At the root of these conflicts are differing cultural, moral and religious values of the proper relationship between humans and nature. This research explores how the reproduction and evolution of these values is mediated through hierarchy of social power, channels of communication and charismatic leadership, which influence the interplay between individual, collective and institutional values. It further engages the principles of respect and collective consideration, showing how they are key to the identification of potentially overlapping values and the constructive resolution of value conflicts.