I’ve worked with Shelton my entire time working in Yosemite Valley (over 10 years now). He’s a really good interpreter… really good. Other interpreters who go on his programs usually feel pretty inadequate afterwards. (You’ll have a chance to see for yourself if you watch Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea coming up on Sunday.)

For years now, Shelton has been trying to get the story out about African-American cavalrymen (often referred to as buffalo soldiers) who protected Yosemite in its early years as a national park. (Before the National Park Service was created, the cavalry was sent in to the early national parks to protect them.) As Shelton frequently says, African-Americans are underrepresented as visitors to national parks and he hopes that knowledge that buffalo soldiers were important in Yosemite’s history will interest more African-Americans in a visit to national parks.

Ranger Shelton Johnson meets President Barack Obama

Ranger Shelton Johnson meets President Barack Obama (White House photo)

Well, getting interviewed for this Ken Burns documentary will probably help his cause a bit. Writing a novel about a buffalo soldier (Gloryland) might help. Meeting the president sure can’t hurt!

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