Last weekend, Wildlands Network brought together outdoor athletes, ecological experts, conservation advocates, and indigenous peoples at Bears Ears National Monument to participate in RumbleX, our annual conservation athlete rendezvous campout. We celebrated and explored this monument whose borders President Trump illegally shrunk in December 2017, in an act of cultural and environmental aggression that leaves many of its precious ancient structures and ancestral sites exposed to mining and other harmful practices.
We have an opportunity up until November 15th to defend Bears Ears National Monument by submitting comments on the Department of Interior’s proposed plans to manage the reduced monumentarea. These plans would leave irreplaceable sites and wild habitats within it vulnerable to mining impacts, looting, and other dangers. Submit your comments and #StandWithBearsEars today!
National monuments like Bears Ears, as well as other protected wildlands, are vital building blocks of Wildways, providing room to roam for myriad wide-ranging migratory species, including California condors, pronghorns, mule deer, and mountain lions.
Bears Ears in particular is also especially important to indigenous peoples as it encompasses critical cultural sites. It was only after years of organized advocacy by the 5 Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni) that Former President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument in December 2016. President Trump’s attempts to strip Bears Ears’ irreplaceable archaeological sites are a horrific insult to these Native American nations.
One of Bears Ears National Monument’s most vocal advocates is the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance, an alliance of indigenous runners who organized two prayer runs to honor their ancestral lands within the original borders of Bears Ears National Monument. Several members of the Alliance attended RumbleX last weekend to tell their stories and exchange ideas about how best to protect the monument from increasingly hostile threats.
After the Alliance’s second prayer run earlier this year, Jasmine Felipe, the youth delegate for the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, gave the following statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In the glow of our first night’s RumbleX campfire, Jasmine relayed the story of her journey across Bears Ears to New York City, to deliver her statement into the hands of the Special Rapporteur. Jasmine’s inspiring words remind us how truly important it is to preserve these landscapes and protect them from destructive and consumptive corporate interests for generations to come.
Jasmine Felipe’s UN Statement
I would like to thank the Special Rapporteur, for the opportunity to address Agenda Item 10: Human Rights, to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I would like to take this moment to acknowledge your safety and wellbeing today. In spirit of the many generations of strong females, our voices will not be extinguished! The Creator positioned each and every one of us in these sacred places to create our sacred spaces.
We, the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance, an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, are a delegation from the Pueblo of Laguna, Acoma, Hopi, Navajo and Ute. We take this time to thank the Indigenous Peoples of this land for welcoming and allowing our visit. I would like to acknowledge the spirits of the Indigenous Peoples that came before us.
My name is Jasmine Felipe, I am Sun Clan, my parents are Monica and Harold Felipe. (Will state name in my native language) My name translates as, East side Water Hole Girl – where the koshare live. I am the youth delegate for the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. I am a traditional farmer and trapper. I haul wood, hunt and fish. I am a proud cultural participant. I am an advocate for the Violence Against Woman’s Act (VAWA) and a Water Protector.
Protection and the boundaries have been reduced by 85% within the southeastern Utah region. This demonstrates clear and unfortunate disrespect for the human beings that we are and the human rights that we deserve.
Mother Earth is me and I am her. I get to be with my mother every day and she nurtures and heals me. I am not better than her or is she greater than me. I speak for the animals and the future generations. The Bears Ears region is the indigenous home of our ancestors. Tribal leaders and President Obama set forth to protect and safeguard the region for future generations. Our indigenous identity is represented in the relationship of the land, language, culture, ceremony and traditional resources. Protection and the boundaries have been reduced by 85% within the southeastern Utah region. This demonstrates clear and unfortunate disrespect for the human beings that we are and the human rights that we deserve.
We would like to invite the return of the Special Rapporteur to join in our next prayer run. To be our guest, learn about and experience the land, to hear the stories around the camp fire, share in meal time and build a relationship to the landscape in the manner our ancestors did when they ran out on our homelands as we have. To understand and then to return to the United Nations Permanent Forum next year to report back on the importance of the preservation of our sacred sites, using Bears Ears, an endangered and targeted sacred site, critical to our identities, cultures, environment and human rights, as a living example.
On December 26, 2017, Three Sister’s for Bears Ears a Prayer Run and Walk was youth organized in response to concerns of the reduction to the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument. March 12, 2018, the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance engaged in a prayer run into the sacred region of our ancestors. Youth, elders and members of the indigenous peoples, as well as non-indigenous peoples, came out to run and honor the migration of our ancestors. Six nights of camping, where stories of the land and a time of our people were shared around the camp fire. The movements of our elders were carried out in our actions in that moment. We felt their presence and acknowledged their existence.
Thank you for this honorable consideration for our sacred sites of our ancestors and homelands of our elders. To visit and learn, and report back to the world the realities of our homelands, and how they are targeted by corporations and extractive industries, will provide the experience of our ways, culture, customs and the Indigenous needs and threats to our Mother Earth, identities and human rights. Our Mother Earth is not a commodity.
On behalf of those who have gone before us, those who are here today, and those who have yet to come. Thank you.