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September 23, 2022 / 9 am-5 pm, Natural History Museum of Utah (and Zoom)

September 24, 2022 / 10 am-4 pm, Antelope Island State Park

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Can art, humanities, and culture save the imperiled Great Salt Lake?

Our task is to bring new attention to the Great Salt Lake's critical presence in our community and to include new voices in our discussion. Due to water policies and climate change, the Great Salt Lake is drying up fast, leaving toxic dust and an ecosystem in crisis. Through the lenses of the humanities, art, and culture, we’ll take on the problems and solutions to what The New York Times calls “Utah’s Environmental Nuclear Bomb.” We’ll examine our history and pathways for repair by hearing from leaders Indigenous to the Great Basin. From artists, storytellers, and advocates, we’ll learn how to shift 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 event is free, except you must pay the admission fee to Antelope Island if you attend on Sep 24. There is free parking at the Natural History Museum, and you can also register to attend talks on September 23 virtually. 

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

Questions? Contact:



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

9 am: Introductions and Welcome
9:15 am: Great Salt Lake and the Great Basin Tribes: Ancestral Connection and Pathways to Repair 

Corrina Bow, Chairwoman of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah 

Forrest Cuch, Ute Indian Tribe, former Executive Director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs

Darren Parry, Former Chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation 

Rupert Steele, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute

11:00 am: Break
11:10 am: Left in the Dust: Lessons from Owens Lake, A Conversation with Karen Piper and Bonnie Baxter

Karen Piper, professor of English, author of Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A.

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

12:10 pm: Lunch
1:10 pm: Changing the Narrative: Underrepresented Stories and Underutilized Tools

Meisei Gonzalez, HEAL Utah Communications Director

Lauren Gustus, Executive Editor of The Salt Lake Tribune

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

Darren Parry,

Former Chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation

2:10 pm: Break
2:20 pm: 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 Great Salt Lake

Douglas Tolman, Artist, MFA Candidate University of Utah

3:20 pm: Break
3:30: Eulogy and Praise: Reading of “The Obituary to the Great Salt Lake” and Irreplaceable 

Readings by Bonnie Baxter, Nan Seymour, Community Contributors, and Audience

5:00 pm: Close

September 24, 10 am-4 pm, Antelope Island State Park, Visitor Center Amphitheater and Media Room

10:15 am: Introductions & Check-in
10:30 am: Antelope Island and the Shoshone People: A Plant Walk and Talk

Brad Parry, Vice Chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation

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

11:45 am: Break
12:00 pm: Monitoring the Great Salt Lake: Tools and Techniques from Great Salt Lake Institute Researchers
Lunch Talk (pack your own lunch and water bottle!)
1:00 pm: Writing for the Lake: Praise Poetry Workshop with Nan Seymour
2:30 pm: Break
2:40 pm: Evaporation: What Does It Take To Leave Enough Water For Great Salt Lake? 
A performance art by dancers and creatives from Brolly Arts
4:00 pm: Close
Last Updated: 3/7/24