KEENE, CA — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis and National Park Foundation President Neil Mulholland at the “Telling America's Story: The American Latino Heritage Initiative La Paz Forum” where they announced the establishment of the American Latino Heritage Theme Study. As part of the Department's new American Latino Heritage Initiative, the study will investigate the stories, places and people of Latino heritage that are worthy of preservation and interpretation.
“From the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in California, the National Park Service is effectively protecting the sites and capturing the stories of the early Spanish explorers and the Spanish colonial settlements,” said Secretary Salazar. “But there are many more contemporary stories that deserve to be preserved and told so that all Americans can understand, appreciate and honor the contributions of Latinos in this country.”
“One of the major goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative is to reconnect the American people to both the natural world and to our nation's rich historic and cultural heritage,” said Director Jarvis. “As America's story teller, the National Park Service is committed to identifying the brave heroes, diverse stories and historic places that form the proud heritage of our nation's history. We look forward to working with the National Park Foundation and community leaders as we undertake this important American Latino Heritage Theme Study.”
The “Telling America's Story: The American Latino Heritage Initiative La Paz Forum” took place at the National Chavez Center in Keene, California and featured many speakers including Moctesuma Esparza, founder of Maya Cinemas and Maya Entertainment and Julie Rodriguez, Director of Youth at the Department of the Interior. During the day-long event, influential business and cultural leaders, and scholars from the Latino community discussed how the National Park Service can help tell the story of the American Latino in a more complete and inclusive way.
“I am honored to address this important gathering and share my thoughts and experiences as a storyteller whose films resonate with the sensibilities and aspirations of the ‘new mainstream' of American Latino and multi-cultural audiences,” said Mr. Esparza. “Latino's contributions to the history and fabric of America are important and should be not only acknowledged, but celebrated as well.”
During the forum Secretary Salazar announced that, in his role as Chairman of the Board of the National Park Foundation, he is creating the American Latino Heritage Fund that will serve as a vehicle to build support for the Latino themed parks within the National Park Service.
“We are honored to add the American Latino Heritage Fund to the Foundation's work,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Secretary Salazar and the National Park Service to increase public awareness, engagement and support for the national parks and historic sites that celebrate and tell the story of Latino history and culture.”