Interior Department Celebrates New Actions to Honor Legacy of Women’s History

New National Park Service virtual exhibition will highlight how women shaped American history throughout the Pacific West

Last edited 05/08/2024

Date: Wednesday, May 8, 2024

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis joined Biden-Harris administration officials, prominent historians, museum leaders, conservation leaders and others today to honor the legacy and contributions of a diverse range of women and girls to our country and highlight the Administration’s efforts to increase the representation of women’s history in sites across America. 

During an event with Director of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory, Secretary Haaland announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has launched a new women’s history virtual exhibition, “Home and Homelands,” that explores how women have made, claimed and fought for their homes and shaped American history throughout the Pacific West. Featuring dozens of stories of women who are not often recognized for their contributions to our nation, the exhibit helps advance efforts by the Department and NPS to tell a more complete account of American history. 

“The Department of the Interior is committed to telling America’s story, including the invaluable contributions of women throughout our nation’s history,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Since Day One of the Biden-Harris administration, the Department has worked to commemorate the places and spaces that form the physical memory of women’s stories, contributions and legacy.” 

Today’s event also highlighted President Biden’s recent Executive Order to strengthen the NPS’s recognition of women’s history and included announcements of over $3 million in commitments from the Mellon Foundation and the National Park Foundation (NPF) to support the Order’s implementation. The Executive Order, signed in March, will increase the representation of women’s history in sites across America and help honor the legacy and contributions of women and girls to our country.  

“The National Park Service is entrusted with using the power of place to tell the story of our country,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams, who also attended today’s event. “As we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and its vision for equal rights and self-determination, the National Park Service is committed to sharing a fuller and more inclusive account of our nation's history, a history that is not complete until all voices are represented.” 

The new “Home and Homelands” exhibition invites readers to consider how women played a central role in defining and defending the concept of “home.” It showcases how women have been at the heart of community building, making connections across cultures, fighting against exclusion and for change, and reclaiming their homelands and cultural practices. The exhibition holds multiple truths together – connection and segregation, beauty and violence, the personal and political – to understand the basic human endeavor of making a home. Drawn from the museum collections and resources of over 30 national parks in the west, these objects and places tell the stories of extraordinary women.  

The exhibition was made possible, in part, by a Women in Parks grant from the NPF. The exhibit was developed by Dr. Nicole Martin, a historian specializing in women's and gender history and the American West. She researched and wrote the exhibition text with input, time and expertise from members of Tribal Nations, descendant communities, NPS staff, and other subject matter experts.  

“National parks across the country share the stories of visionary women — trailblazers who dared to imagine a different future for women,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Chief Program Officer, National Park Foundation. “The National Park Foundation is thrilled to support this new exhibit to bring yet another powerful story to park visitors that will expand their understanding of the role women play in parks and the places they called home.” 

During the Biden-Harris administration, the National Park Service has invested more than $19 million in infrastructure and preservation projects for parks commemorating women across the nation. These funds are supported by the NPS Centennial Challenge, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, and the Great American Outdoors Act. Additionally, the Department has awarded $2.1 million in Historic Preservation Fund grants for sites that are helping tell women’s history through the following grant programs: History of Equal Rights, Underrepresented Communities, Saving America’s Treasures, and African American Civil Rights. More information can be found via the Department’s Women’s History Month fact sheet


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