Thinking of my family and relatives that have come before me reminds me I belong outdoors no matter what I wear or what gear I have.
What’s at Stake: the Significance of Environmental Conservation and LGBTQ+ Inclusive Policy in the 2020 Election
Looking at what is at stake, the importance in understanding, discussing, and participating in our national discourse is more important than ever. The important victories in both civil rights and environmental protection are too important to be undone, challenged, or unrecognized.
Native Americans have always been outdoor people. We have stories and teachings of how important the land is to us and we respect it. However, the “outdoors” has been recreated to be a place of work and not being.
When the news dropped in March that people were getting sick from this mysterious virus, cities were shutting down since no one knew how it spread, and full-on panic hit the United States. Our wedding wasn’t exactly on the top of our list of concerns, but as time went on and people settled into the social distancing scene, we came to the realization that the responsible thing for us to do was cancel our wedding and reception.
Most online content remains inaccessible to disabled users. There are few accessible resources for people who are blind or low-vision, deaf or hard of hearing, autistic, or have a sensory disability. This means that not only are people with disabilities excluded from enjoying the outdoors, they are excluded from enjoying content about the outdoors. Creating accessible outdoor content is one important factor in building a more inclusive outdoor community.
An unexpected side effect of a global quarantine and this national reckoning on race has been the amplification of Black voices in spaces where we previously were not heard. With social media-focused campaigns like “Black Birders Week” and “Black Hikers Week” taking off, Black voices in the outdoor recreation space have been seen and heard like never before.
I’ve heard some people in the outdoor community express frustrations. These folks are right about an influx of outdoor enthusiasts enjoying nature, but I love the diversity COVID has blessed us with. Change is a huge part of life—whether you like it or not, it’s happening.
As we crisscrossed the United States on our journey to check all the national parks off our list, time and time again we were pleasantly surprised by how accessible our public lands have become for families of all ages. One of the least stressful hikes you can take is along a wooden boardwalk, void of stumbling blocks like roots and rocks, and replete with benches to stop and rest while taking in an inspiring view.
Our pride, be it for our community, our shared struggles, or our resilience, can not truly be celebrated and touted until liberation and equity is available for all. Therefore, the time has come for our Pride to evolve.
I did not know my deep connection to the land until after I left the Navajo Nation. I went away to college and explored the mountains of Utah, but no matter how much fun I had outside, I felt incomplete. I learned to ski, snowboard, and climb, but my outdoor heart was never whole until I drove home and saw the red sandstone and the vast desert that went on for miles. I didn’t need to be in my house, I just needed to be where the ground was red and the skies were blue. That’s when I knew land was part of my identity.