By Isabelle Morrison
Public spaces are for everyone, but how we perceive them and interact with them is contextual. Some activists are making their statements on the public canvas all around the world. And it's catching on.
Len Necefer fell in love with mountain climbing after moving to Colorado, but he noticed that information about the national parks he visited did not include indigenous history, despite Native people being the first occupants of those areas.
Soon, he discovered a way to reclaim indigenous lands.
In 2017, Necefer, a member of the Navajo Nation, began posting photos of Native people participating in outdoor recreation to his Instagram account, @NativesOutdoors. One day, he posted a photo of a woman standing on the summit of Longs Peak, with the geotag "Neníisótoyóú'u," the mountain's Arapaho name.
Since then, through a combination of scholarly research and gathering traditional indigenous knowledge, Necefer has created indigenous place-name geotags for more than 40 mountains, most in Colorado.
"For a lot of folks, even myself, the education we receive about indigenous history in this country is pretty inadequate," Necefer said. "It does not talk about the immense suffering and displacement that occurred, especially on public lands. People are curious and want to know, and I think this is one way that can happen.
"These are lands that have been stewarded by indigenous people for thousands of years, and now it's a responsibility of everyone to take that into consideration."
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
By Rhea Suh
It wasn't enough to hijack a ceremony to honor Navajo code talkers so he could deride a U.S. senator as "Pocahontas." President Trump now plans to go to Utah on Monday to decimate the Bears Ears National Monument, public land that's sacred to five tribes of Native Americans.
Not content to relegate a historic figure to a partisan punch line, Trump is poised to build on a shameful legacy of betraying indigenous Americans. He is breaking a solemn promise to forever safeguard ancestral lands that speak to vital parts of our country's history.
He reportedly intends to shrink the Bears Ears monument from more than one million acres to a mere 200,000 and to similarly gut the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. And he aims to expose hundreds of thousands of acres of these lands to destructive industrial mining and drilling that profit the few at the expense of the many.
That formula increasingly defines the Trump agenda. It strikes at the very ideals of equity and government by the people that sustain our notions of nationhood. In this case, it also revives an acutely painful injustice to the original American people. Wresting land from tribes was disgraceful in the 19th century. We're not about to countenance it now.
During Monday's White House ceremony to honor the heroism of the Navajo code talkers—who used their native language as the basis for a secret code that helped the U.S. Marines prevail in some of the bloodiest fighting in World War II—Trump used the occasion to scorn Senator Elizabeth Warren, calling her "Pocahontas." He managed in a single blundering stroke to offend the dignity of the event, mock Warren's claim to Native American heritage and belittle a woman of great importance in our nation's history.
"Pocahontas is a real person ... not a caricature," Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye told CNN. "This is a person, a young lady and Native American woman, that played a critical role in the life of this nation."
Much of what is believed about Pocahontas comes from the accounts of English settlers. Captain John Smith wrote in his memoirs that she twice saved the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown. According to accounts by him and others, Pocahontas spent much of her life trying to bridge the conflicting transatlantic worlds of her native Powhatan people and the English invaders.
It is documented that she was the first Native American known to have married an Englishman. She gave birth to the first English-American child of record. And she crossed the Atlantic to bolster flagging investor support in London for the foundering English colony in Virginia. Without Pocahontas, by the settlers' own telling, Jamestown would have failed.
It's bad enough Trump doesn't know history. His plans, now, have echoes of one of the most shameful chapters in our past.
The lands of southeastern Utah have been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. It's a majestic region of sandstone canyons, desert mesas, forested highlands and red rock formations. One area in particular, named for twin buttes that resemble the ears of a bear, contains ancient cliff dwellings, rock art and more than 100,000 other archaeological, cultural and spiritual sites. They attest to varied and diverse American civilizations that existed long before the first Europeans arrived.
That's why President Obama created Bears Ears National Monument, setting aside 1.35 million acres of public land for special protections meant to preserve this special place for all time.
Remember, this is public land, protected in the public interest―and in this case, with a twist. The indigenous people whose ancestors lived on Bears Ears lands have a direct say in the monument's management and long-term planning. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is made up of leaders from the Hopi Nation, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah Ouray and the Pueblo of Zuni. It makes sense to tap into the wisdom and experience of people who've known these lands for centuries.
Native peoples have a voice, and we all have a stake, in the lasting preservation of Bears Ears. That's why, since Trump first hinted at carving up Bears Ears, more than a million public comments have poured in to support this unique monument.
If history is the conversation we have with the past, we need to listen closely. Trump, though, is listening to industry's version, not the American people's. Well, he won't get away with it. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to designate national monuments. It does not empower them to slice up monuments designated by others. If Trump tries to do that to Bears Ears, we and others will take him to court.
And we'll carry with us the inspiration of patriots like Peter MacDonald, who was 15 years old when he volunteered to become one of the 400 Navajo code talkers serving our country. Today, he's one of 13 still alive to tell their story. "What we did truly represents who we are as Americans," MacDonald said at Monday's White House ceremony. "We have different languages, different skills, different talents and different religion. But when our way of life is threatened, like the freedom and liberty that we all cherish, we come together as one."
And we will come together as one in the next few days, with our community partners, to block any illegal attempt by this president to eviscerate protections for Bears Ears.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
Tribal leaders from the U.S. and Canada signed a joint treaty today opposing the proposed delisting of Yellowstone grizzly bears by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). More than 50 federally recognized tribes, backed by the 900,000-member Assembly of First Nations, support the treaty.
The USFWS has been working to remove the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the threatened species list under the Endangered Species Act since 2005. Trophy hunters have been waiting for the opportunity to put a grizzly head on their walls ever since.
Grizzly Bears at Risk of Being Hunted for the First Time in Decades https://t.co/1XYPyaYEri @ConservationOrg @environmentca— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457821513.0
In 2007, the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population was delisted, but a court challenge was upheld and it was returned to the threatened species list in 2009. The bears survived another court challenge when the USFWS appealed the decision to overturn the delisting, but an appellate court ruled in favor of the bears in 2011. Now, the USFWS is back for another try.
Chief Stanley Grier of the Piikani Nation.Native News Online.net
"The grizzly bear has been significant to the Blackfoot people since the time of our Creation," said Chief Stanley Grier of the Piikani Nation, where one of several treaty ceremonies will take place today.
"It is cultural genocide. I wouldn't put it any other way," said Blackfeet councilwoman Cheryl Little Dog. "To delist and allow trophy hunting of the grizzly bear is the government again saying to our people, 'Forget how sacred the grizzly bear is. Forget your sacred ways.'"
Grizzly bears once roamed the American West from California—where it is on the state flag—to the Great Plains and south to Mexico. By 1975, when the grizzly was added to the threatened species list, it was down to just two percent of its traditional range, and just 136 bears were left in the the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—which includes Yellowstone, Grand Teton and John D. Rockefeller national parks, along with national forests, the National Elk Refuge and some state and private lands in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
Map of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.National Park Service / Yellowstone Spatial Analysis Center
Today, there are about 150 grizzly bears with home ranges in Yellowstone National Park, and between 674 and 839 in the 34,375-square-mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The USFWS contends that this equates to recovery of the bears to a sustainable population. Conservationist Jane Goodall and 57 other scientists and experts disagree.
"These grizzlies are also still isolated. Years of protection and conservation work have created a relatively safe landscape for the bears in this region, but not necessarily beyond it. With dangerous roads and human development criss-crossing a patchwork of habitats, it will be a difficult journey for Yellowstone grizzlies to safely travel to other grizzly bear populations or for bears from other populations to get to the Yellowstone ecosystem – something Yellowstone bears need to help the species remain healthy and resilient to change."
Jane Goodall Among 58 Scientists Urging Government to Halt #Grizzly De-Listing https://t.co/MPT5m6cWVG @NWF @NRDC https://t.co/Gk8UXkkjqf— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1462552204.0
Should the grizzly bear lose its protected states, Montana residents will soon be able to fork over just $150 for a permit to shoot and kill a grizzly during two proposed hunting seasons, in late fall and early spring. Last year, a bear popular with wildlife watchers and photographers who earned the nickname Scarface was shot illegally near Gardiner, Montana, outside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
In August, the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and Bozeman resident Clint Nagel filed suit against the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission over adoption of its trophy hunting plan.
"By specifically targeting the biggest and strongest males, trophy hunting reduces the genetic viability of a species and has cascading impacts on the social dynamics of apex predators, including increasing infanticide," wrote The Wildlife News.
Todd Wilkinson, author of Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, writing for National Geographic, stated, "Grizzlies' rarity has made them valuable assets, economically worth far more alive than as a person's rug or trophy."
Today, there are about 150 grizzly bears with home ranges in Yellowstone National Park, and between 674 and 839 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.National Park Service
But the debates over hunting and the scientific merits of delisting leave out the interests of Native peoples, and as we've learned from Standing Rock, they are not about to give up the fight for their lands and a healthy environment. In the statement March 3, statement from USFWS announcing the proposed delisting, service director Dan Ashe said, "We are look forward to hearing from the public about the proposal and consulting with Native American tribes."
Tribal leaders have denounced the consultation process.
"Our formal request for consultation has been ignored," wrote Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Native leaders also question USFWS' choice of consultancy Amec Foster Wheeler to conduct the peer review process for the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears. The company says that it serves "the oil & gas, clean energy, environment & infrastructure and mining markets" and lists projects including oil and gas pipeline development.
In a letter from the Navajo Nation to Secretary Jewell, president Russell Begaye and vice president Jonathan Nez wrote, "It is very troubling to see the influence of corporate energy companies on this delisting decision."
"Tribes have endured two centuries of deception and deceit when dealing with the U.S. government, and this rule that will provide rich wasicu [non-Indians] with the legal authority to trophy hunt our sacred relative, the grizzly bear, is a continuation of that pattern," said Tom Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, earlier this year.
The treaty signed today makes a statement about the core interests of Native American and Native Canadian peoples in the survival of the grizzly bear.
Federal Bill Seeks First Native American Land Grab in 100 Years https://t.co/qvNtJMjxDJ @Frack_Off @FrackAction @VanJones68 @shailenewoodley— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1474392375.0