- The red road to the capital began last week in the coastal state of Lummi north of Seattle, and will end on July 29 in Washington, DC.
- The cross-country caravan will arrive Saturday at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a site especially sacred to Native Americans.
- The predominant images on the colored totem being dragged across the country: an eagle diving to the ground, a man praying and a salmon.
Twenty Native American activists in 10 cars drive one totem pole across the country.
While this protest caravan may seem small, its message to Congress is huge: Give the original people An opinion before granting access to lands considered sacred by tribes. The opposing argument: Public lands for all and the nation energy needs It cannot be ignored.
There is no place hotter than this debate than in Bears ears National Monument In southeastern Utah, amazing archaeological and natural wonders activists will be arriving on Saturday.
Former President Barack Obama designated 1.35 million acres for the memorial in late 2016. Conservatives criticized the move as government overreach, and then-President Donald Trump cut the size of teddy bears by 85% in 2017. Its fate is still in progress.
“Holy sites and public lands are under constant duress from climate chaos and dependence on fossil fuels, and we feel that under this administration we can change the role of the federal government in this equation,” said Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance. , who spoke to USA TODAY as the caravan was traveling through Utah. “This is the political moment.”
The original organizers were backed by the appointment of former U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, of New Mexico to Laguna Pueblo, to run the Department of the Interior as well as President Joe Biden’s relaunch of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.
Activists say the role indigenous peoples played in the recent elections should give them a greater say in policies that can help tribes with employment, education and health care.
“Native Americans should be at the decision-making table,” said LeBlanc, who is from the Caddo nation in the southeastern states.
For most of the federally recognized tribes of about 600, land use and ownership is a top priority. While some tribes have had success on this front—last year, the Supreme Court ruled that half of Oklahoma is on Native land, leading to repercussions for court cases—most have spent the past years protesting access to federal lands, many of whom In India, the Trump administration has awarded energy and mining companies.
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The result, activists say, is deep concern about land plunder due to fracking and oil pipelines that often have deep historical and religious significance to indigenous peoples.
“Much like Notre Dame Cathedral which is a symbolic structure of Catholicism, this landscape is our cathedral,” said Pat Gonzalez Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Intertribal Council based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We ask the people to be in the same considerate mindset and to show respect for this spectacle as our people and tribal leaders do.”
Gonzalez Rogers added that while no sacred site is more important than another, Bears Erez, named for Putin’s two ear-shaped towers, will likely test the power of the presidency when it comes to overseeing the Antiquities Act of 1906, which grants the president powers ” Announcing historical monuments by public declaration.
Bears supporters say that’s what Obama did when he made it a monument in one of his last gestures in office. Critics say the law is not designed to allocate such vast amounts of land, and thus potentially limit access to a group of users.
Jeffrey McCoy, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian public interest law firm that represents farm owners who said Obama’s announcement denied them access to land they have long been using, said Jeffrey McCoy, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. This case is halted as Biden reviews his predecessor’s conduct.
McCoy said it’s not up to presidents of either party to decide the fate of huge holdings of federal land, but rather “that is the job of Congress and the National Parks Declaration.”
Bears Ears leader Gonzalez Rogers said activists are urging lawmakers to increase the size of the national monument beyond what Obama granted, on nearly two million acres.
Recognizing that the fate of the Indian state has long been tied to federal politics, a variety of Indigenous groups have come up with the idea of driving from Washington State to Washington, D.C., stopping at some of the most controversial indigenous sacred sites.
It’s called The red road to the capital.: The voyage of a totem pole to protect sacred sites — a name that refers to a journey from addiction to sobriety — began last week in the coastal state of Lummi north of Seattle and will conclude with events in the nation’s capital on July 29.
Stops along Serpent Trail include Chaco Canyon in New Mexico (July 18), fracking taking place in an area where thousands lived between AD 850 and 1200; Standing Rock, North Dakota (July 24), home of years of protests against the Dakota Pipeline; and Mackinaw City, Michigan, where tribes are fighting to shut down a pipeline for fear the spill could contaminate lake water.
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The idea of making the trip along with a gigantic, carved totem pole was one of the best traditions of protest: having something that makes those who see it ask questions, LeBlanc said.
“It is about raising all people’s awareness of what is happening to our nation’s land,” she said.
Totem poles are a traditional feature of Native American tribes from the Pacific Northwest and are considered sacred symbols. This special totem was created over a period of three months by Lome craftsmen called the House of Tears Carvers. It is 25 feet high and 43 inches wide and was carved from a 400-year-old red cedar tree.
Among the predominant images of the colored totem are an eagle diving to the ground, a man praying, and a salmon. There is also a woman with a girl nearby, in appreciation of the way grandmothers often teach the younger generation in indigenous ways and languages. There are also seven tears carved into the totem, which represent seven generations of Native Americans who suffered at the hands of non-Natives, according to the organizers of Red Road to DC.
As the caravan continues, activists hope to draw attention with both the totem and their congregations to the global need to protect nature at a time when climate crises – from fires in the West to storms in the East – appear to be a growing threat.
They argue that Native Americans are uniquely suited to be agents of land that once belonged to them alone.
“Sacred places are where our peoples have gone since the beginning of time to collect medicines, to communicate with our ancestors, to pray and to lift their spirits,” LeBlanc said. “We have an understanding on how best to preserve and protect these places to ensure these places continue for our people and all people.”