One week ago, many of us who value public lands were devastated to learn that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat’l Monuments would be shrunk and stripped of its protections. Many of you have heard from myself, @Im_NicoleMarie on this issue. But today, I feel that it is important we hear from someone else. A native woman. A woman who this land means a lot to. So, I hope you all take a few minutes to read about Jaylyn, @NativeWomensWilderness and what these lands mean to her and her heritage.
"You could say I'm a kid straight from the Rez. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation. I was adopted by an incredible woman who taught me how to love and explore the land. The land was our playground, the sticks were your swords, the canyons were your maze, and the cliffs were your wonder.
I was taught that I could do anything I wanted and what I really wanted was to climb mountains. But I had no one to look up to, so I grew up with the idea that only white women could climb mountains. I then began to scale the cliffs in my back yard. I then became a guide and a mountain bike race coordinator. And then I became the brown woman who climbed mountains.
Currently at @nativewomenswilderness we have started a movement called, ‘Whose Land Are We Exploring On?’ Right now it is an important time to ask this question. Did you know that Bears Ears is a sacred site to five major tribes, all of which have ancestral ties to the land for thousands of years. One of these tribes makes an annual pilgrimage to pick berries that only grow within the monument, for sacred traditions. For me, Bears Ears brings about nonverbal feelings for me. How do you explain the feeling you have with the land of your ancestors, that DEEP feeling?
The past week has been devastating to me. I also feel in some ways feel traumatized. It is 2017 and yet our lands and rights are still being taken away from us? This is our land and another note to historical trauma and colonization where once again our land is being segregated and split up.
Through NWW we are exploring what these lands mean to us, the land that we love. Please join us while we share with you the ancestral history behind the lands you explore."
The events in Charlottesville have been very triggering for me. About three months ago, I was verbally assaulted by a white supremacist in Boulder. I was spat in the face multiple times, I was called a brown f*n c*nt over and over, I was told me and my People should've been thrown in the furnaces too. I was called all the names in the book. He screamed in my face stating that the world would be a better place without me and that all brown people should go to hell. ***
Meanwhile, NO ONE HELPED ME! I asked people around me, why no one was helping me, many cast their eyes down and walked away. I had three choices: either lash out, run, or stand there with the love of Christ. I stood there and didn't say a word. Don't get me wrong, I was terrified, shaking like a leaf, and I had no idea if he would physically hurt me. But I knew I was standing up to the hatred and injustice of multicultural people, I was standing up for myself as an Indigenous Woman, and I was standing up for those who receive hate due to their skin color. ***
If you get anything out of this...Please, if you see someone in this situation, DO NOT let them stand alone. This made the situation worse and harder to process, I was alone! I was beyond scared and yes traumatized. I can't tell you what the road of recovery looks like after a hate crime. Even talking about this and making it public is very scary (and yes, I'm shaking and on the verge of tears.) So, thank you to everyone who stands by our sides and brings their voice to situations like these. My hope is by talking about issues like these and the sharing of our stories, it can make our Country better.
Thank you to those who helped put me back together and helped me see that God made me full of wonderful color.
*** This picture reminds me of what racism and genocide looks like for many Native Americans. This was the original church of Taos Pueblo, but then was destroyed by the US Army in 1847.