Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kyle Conway


This dissertation analyzed interviews conducted with three key people who described their personal connections to Voyageurs National Park and the adjoining communities. These ethnographic details add insights expressed in the voices of community members who have demonstrated interest in and commitment to the park through their association with the staff and their interactions with the park ecosystems. These insights are valuable because the park mandate requires public involvement in management decisions as part of the public land stewardship but engaging public involvement proved to be complex. After the park was established a rift developed between local community members and those supporting Voyageurs National Park. Research conducted before this dissertation describes the history of political battles surrounding the creation of Voyageurs National Park, the need for wilderness to protect America's national heritage, and the conflict between federal policies used to manage National Parks and Native American issues. This dissertation adds to the body of related research by contributing insights on discourse used to describe the shift away from traditional recreational and subsistence lifestyles in the communities near Voyageurs National Park and the move toward the sustainable, less environmentally invasive uses mandated by the park staff.