History and Culture-june 8

History and Culture-june 8 - Journal of Leisure Research...

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Journal of Leisure Research Copyright 2009 2009, Vol. 41, No.4, pp. 529-545 National Recreation and Park Association Rocky Mountain National Park: History and Culture as Factors in African-American Park Visitation Beth Erickson' Sacramento State University Sacramento, California, USA Corey W. Johnson University of Georgia Athens, Georgia, USA B. Dana Kivel Sacramento State University Sacramento, California, USA Abstract This investigation examined experiences of tbe African-American population liv- ing in the Denver area about tbeir visitation to Rocky Mountain National Park. Using qualitative semi-structured interviews with 36 participants, and archival techniques, the authors identify the historical and cultural factors that resulted in low use of the park by African-Americans. Consequently, tbe autbors suggest tbe use of Bourdieu s "cultural capital" and "babitus" as mecbanisms for assisting researcbers and practi- tioners in better understanding and meeting tbe needs of marginalized people in tbe United States. KEYWORDS: Race, ethnicity, bourdieu, national parks, visitation For many individuals in tbe United States, visiting a National Park site during lei- sure time is considered common practice. However, recent studies bave sbown tbat traveling to a National Park is not widespread among all etbnic and racial groups and tbat visitation by racial/etbnic minorities is very low. On average, tbe Wbite popula- tion typically accounts for 91% of park visitors wbile minority populations sucb as African-Americans, consist of only 3.8% (Littlejobn, National Park Service, personal communication, 1998; Floyd, 1999). Low visitation rates by minority groups concerns tbe National Park Service (NPS) because tbe organization has an ethical, legal and moral responsibility to make parks accessible and available to all individuals (Sandy ' Please address correspondence to Beth Erikson, Sacramento State University, Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism; (916) 278-2816; erickson(a)csus.edu. . 529 .
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530. ERICKSON, JOHNSON, KIVEL Weber, NPS Interpretation and Education Branch, personal communication, 1999). To gain a better understanding of low visitation rates by minorities in National Parks sites, this qualitative research inquiry explored the relationship between Den- ver's African-American community and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). RMNP is located just 70 miles northwest of the city and is one of the nations major tourist attractions. In Denver, African-Americans constitute 11.1% of the city's popu- lation (U.S. Census, 2000), but they rarely visit the natural area. To understand why the African-American population in Denver tends not to recreate in the RMNP, it is important to identify the historical factors that shape and influence how and where this population recreates. Furthermore, the cultural context in which the African American population from Denver lives is also essential for understanding the underutilization of the park. In this study, the lead researcher explored how historical and cultural fac-
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History and Culture-june 8 - Journal of Leisure Research...

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