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American Values: American Wilderness

Actor and host Christopher Reeve introduces an ethnically and culturally diverse group of Americans, including inner-city youngsters and disabled adventurers, who talk about the benefits of wilderness: clean air and water, wildlife preserves and a legacy for future generations. (First Aired Tuesday, November 23, 2004)



It’s been a while since I was in a wilderness. It might take a bit longer before I do get to go back to one. But even if that never happens, I will always value wilderness.” Christopher Reeve

In American Values: American Wilderness the late Christopher Reeve introduces us to a wide variety of citizens sharing their deep love of wilderness. They include:

• The teen-aged daughter of Cambodian refugees entering a California wilderness for the first time
• An African-American director of a Denver-based learning center, whose life work is to introduce children to the wildernesses of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains
• A tribal chairman from Montana, first hired as a ranger for the wilderness preserved by his people on their reservation
• Physically, emotionally, and cognitively disabled visitors on a dog-sled trip in northern Minnesota
• A pair of Miami-based middle school teachers who plan their school year around taking students – and their parents – on a three-day trip into the Everglades wilderness in Florida
• A middle-aged man from New Mexico suffering from polio
• A native Alaskan Gwich’in woman, teaching her children her culture’s traditions in the Artic wilderness

Those interviewed place their personal connection to wilderness in a national framework. They talk about wilderness as a haven for animals, a source of clean water and air, and a challenging place in which personal growth can happen in the absence of the machines that so often insulate people from their environment. This documentary was filmed at the time of the 40th anniversary of The Wilderness Act in 2004. Christopher Reeve poignantly sums it up: “What will the next 40 years bring to these increasingly precious lands? What will we Americans pass on to our children? That is up to you. It’s been a while since I was in a wilderness. It might take a bit longer before I do get to go back to one. But even if that never happens, I will always value wilderness.”

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