Can art, human sciences and culture save the Great Salt Lake in danger?

Our task is to bring new attention to the critical presence of the Great Salt Lake in our community and to include new voices in our discussion. Due to water policies and climate change, the Great Salt Lake is rapidly drying up, leaving toxic dust and an ecosystem in crisis. Through the lenses of humanities, art and culture, we will address the problems and solutions to what The New York Times calls it “Utah’s Environmental Nuclear Bomb”. We will examine our history and our paths of repair by listening to Indigenous leaders in the Great Basin. From artists, storytellers and advocates, we will learn how to change the narrative and tell compelling, honest stories about the crisis to inspire needed action. The symposium is organized by the U of U Environmental Humanities Program in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College, the Tanner Humanities Center, the U of U College of Humanities, the U of U Office of Sustainability.

Event logistics

The the event is freeexcept you must pay the Admission fee at antelope island if you attend on September 24. There is free parking at the Natural History Museum, and you can also register to attend the September 23 lectures virtually.

On September 23, lunch and refreshments will be provided at the Natural History Museum. On September 24, please bring your lunch and a bottle of water at Antelope Island.

Questions? Contact: [email protected]


September 23, 9am-5pm, Natural History Museum of Utah (and virtually on Zoom)

9am: Introductions and welcome

9:15 a.m.: The Great Salt Lake and the Tribes of the Great Basin: Ancestral Connection and Pathways to Reparation

Corrina Bow, President of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah

Forrest Cuch, Ute Indian Tribe, former executive director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs

Darren Parry, councillor, former president of the Shoshone Nation’s Northwest Band

Rupert Steele, Chairman of the Confederate Tribes of Goshute

11:00: To break

11:15 a.m.: Left in the Dust: Lessons from Owens Lake, a conversation with Karen Piper and Bonnie Baxter

Karen Piper, English teacher, author of Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in LA

Bonnie Baxter, Principal of the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College

12:15 p.m.: Lunch

1:15 p.m.: Changing the Narrative: Underrepresented Stories and Underutilized Tools

Meisei Gonzalez, Communications Director of HEAL Utah

Lauren Gustus, Editor-in-Chief of The Salt Lake Grandstand

Victoria Meza, Embodied Ecology Artist, Urban Indian Center Behavioral Health Coordinator

Darren Parry, Shoshone Nation Northwest Band Councilor

2:15 p.m.: To break

2:30 p.m.: Can art save us?

Amy McDonald, Director and Founder of Brolly Arts

Willy Palomo, poet, director of the Utah Humanities Book Festival

Nan Seymour, poet and activist

Holly Simonsen, poet, artist, director of the Alfred Lambourne Prize program for FRIENDS of the Great Salt Lake

Douglas Tolman, Artist, MFA Candidate, University of Utah

3:30 p.m.: To break

3:40 p.m.: Eulogy and praise: Reading of “The obituary at the Grand Lac Salé” and Irreplaceable

Readings by Bonnie Baxter, Nan Seymour, community contributors and the public

5:00 p.m.: close

September 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Antelope Island State Park, Visitor Center Amphitheater and Media Room

The schedule may change slightly, please check the final schedule for the week of the event

10:15 a.m.: Presentations and recording

10:30 a.m.: Antelope Island and the Shoshone People: Plant Walk and Talk

Brad Parry, Vice President of the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation

Rios Pacheco, Artist and Cultural Performer, Northwestern Shoshone & Kewa Pueblo

11:45 a.m.: To break

12:00 p.m.: Monitoring the Great Salt Lake: Tools and Techniques from Great Salt Lake Institute Researchers

Lunch Talk (pack your own lunch and a bottle of water!)

1:00 p.m.: Writing workshop with Nan Seymour

2:30 p.m.: Break

2:40 p.m.: Dancing for the Lake: Performance and participatory workshop with Brolly Arts

3:40 p.m.: Closing