In "Beyond the Sunset" (May/June), Page Stegner tells us that President
Jefferson purchased "Louisiana" from the French for $15 million. However, if
anyone had the right to sell this vast territory to the United States, it was not the
French. That right belonged to the Native Americans, who had lived there in harmony with
nature, if not with each other, for hundreds of generations, but to whom the European
concept of ownership was incomprehensible. What France sold to the United States was the
right to subdue the land and its inhabitants without interference from the French. It's a
sad story of treaties made and broken, of land
and species destroyed. Norm Ewers
While Stephen Lyons' May/June "Good Going"
article on Illinois' Shawnee National Forest was enjoyable, I think the story of the
Shawnee could be told in greater scope. Five physiographic regions meet here, making the
area one of the most biologically diverse in the country. Thanks to Sierra Club activists, Congress established seven wilderness areas in the Shawnee in 1990.
Three more areas deserve protection. In the proposed Burke Branch Wilderness, for
instance, visitors can discover six-foot-tall cinnamon ferns, the rare whorled pogonia,
and the last known mesic barren in North America. In the proposed Camp Hutchins and Ripple
Hollow wildernesses, they can walk along the ridgetops overlooking deep wooded ravines,
then descend to walk along clear, cool streams.
The Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club is campaigning to save these three areas from the
ravages of all-terrain vehicles and logging. If you would like to help, please ask your
U.S. senators and representative to support wilderness protection for them. For more
information contact the Illinois Chapter office at Doug.Chien@sierraclub.org, or (312) 251-1680. Barb McKasson, Conservation Chair
Shawnee Group, Sierra Club
I enjoyed Carl Pope's column on media election coverage ("Ways & Means," May/June). It was, as usual, thoughtful and insightful. However, I noticed one candidate was missing. I look
forward to a piece on Ralph Nader and the Green Party. Tom Schultz
I am concerned that environmentalists will waste their votes on the Green Party because of
uncompromising idealism. This would only guarantee the election of the least
environmentally oriented presidential candidate. It is an imperfect world, and throwing
away votes in a fit of pique will certainly help keep it that way. Joyce Calese
Editor's note: See "Why Vote" for a story about the implications
of this year's presidential election and the relative merits of candidates George W. Bush,
Al Gore, and Ralph Nader.
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