John Spezia: National Monuments are sacred and need protection
Since 1979, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments have been my workplace, which has provided a modest living and a place where I could connect with my home, planet Earth. As I reflect on the many students who accompanied me on Outward Bound courses, worked on my trail crews and participated in my educational trips through our local collage, I am amazed at the skills, insights and growth that they gained. Stepping out of their hectic lives and immersing themselves into a natural environment provided an experience that will assist them for the rest of their lives.
There is something unique about the connection we all have with the land, especially National Monuments that are preserved for their pristine and peaceful experience, which helps define who we are as homo sapiens. These areas are preserved for the present as well as for the civilizations that came before us.
Future generations of Native Americans base their lives on the preserved cultural history protected in these National Monuments. Even for us latecomers to this continent, there is a need to connect with the land and ourselves in this fast-paced life we survive in.
Over the past 37 years, during which I have called these two monuments my home away from home and workplace, I have seen a continuous assault on the forests, rivers, creeks, canyons, ruins and archeological sites, which has diminished their stature and integrity. And now, in an extreme display of cronyism, the President is proposing to open much of this beauty and history to the highest bidder. I feel like these two monuments are part of me after all these years, and when they are threatened, I feel threatened too.
This is akin to the way Native Americans feel about the sacred sites in these two monuments. They are their memorials and hallowed religious sites, similar to the Lincoln Monument or Independence Hall, which we hold sacred. We should give these two monuments the same respect by preserving them and protecting them from those who would do harm to the legacy of our public lands.
What to do? There are several organizations which are mounting legal challenges to protect our National Monuments. They need resources to defend our public lands. Go to their websites and participate in this effort to protect your public land: Patagonia.com, ConservationAlliance.com, Earthjustice.org, The Native American Rights Fund represents the Hopi, Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute at bit.ly/standwithbearsears, The Navajo Nation at gofundme.com/NavajoNationBearsEars and The Ute Indian Tribe at utepac.com/donate
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