04/21/2021

Webinar: Climbing on Sacred Land

A Discussion on Understanding and Respecting Indigenous Culture

Access the discussion on understanding and respecting Indigenous culture, and each other. The panelists discuss practical ways to ensure that climbers do not harm the vast cultural legacy of sacred land.

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Petroglyphs and other cultural resources are not only a window into the past, but an ongoing and vital part of Indigenous culture and identity. Indigenous people have cared for the land since time immemorial and continue to do so to this day.

When Richard Gilbert bolted a new route at Sunshine Wall, north of Moab, he said he did not realize that he was compromising prehistoric petroglyphs. Nor did he realize the level of outrage and vitriol his actions would generate from the climbing community.

Access Fund unequivocally condemns the desecration of cultural resources and sacred sites. However, respecting Indigenous culture is more complex than the protection of a physical space with cultural significance. Understanding contemporary Indigenous identity, the intrinsic connection between Native peoples and America’s public lands, and the value of Indigenous sacred sites is fundamental to developing a holistic respect for Indigenous culture.

Panelists

Ashleigh Thompson

Indigenous Archaeology/American Indian Studies, University of Arizona

Ashleigh Thompson (she/hers) is a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation and a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. She is passionate about all things Indigenous, especially protecting sacred lands and food sovereignty. Ashleigh has given many presentations about Indigenous archaeology, recreating respectfully on Native lands, and creating outdoor spaces that are welcoming to everyone. Find Ashleigh trail running among saguaros with her dog, Benson, or hanging off a rope on Mount Lemmon granite in Tohono O'odham and Pascua Yaqui lands (AKA Tucson, Arizona).

Angelo Baca

Utah Diné Bikéyah, Cultural Resources Coordinator

Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi) is a cultural activist, scholar, filmmaker, educator, and doctoral student in Anthropology at New York University. He is the Cultural Resources Coordinator at Utah Diné Bikéyah, an Indigenous nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting culturally significant ancestral lands. The National Parks Conservation Association recently designated Angelo as one of “10 Under 40” dynamic cultural activists who make up the association’s Next Generation Advisory Council. Shash Jaa’: Bears Ears is Angelo Baca’s latest award-winning film about the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition working together to protect 1.9 million acres of Utah wilderness as a national monument. As a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at New York University, he has research interests in Indigenous international repatriation, Indigenous food sovereignty, and sacred lands protection. His work reflects dedication to collaborative Indigenous research with Indigenous communities on equal and respectful terms. He is recipient of the NYU Malcolm X/Martin Luther King, Jr. NIA Award as Co-President of Native American and Indigenous Students Group (NAISG).

Skye Kolealani Razon-Olds

Kanaka Climbers Founder and Director

Skye Kolealani Razon-Olds is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), cultural practitioner, mother, and climber. She is the founder and director of Kānaka Climbers, a non-profit centered around responsible access to outdoor activities within Hawaiʻi. Their work focuses on providing vital cultural education surrounding sacred spaces. They are currently working with The State of Hawaiʻi to create clear and culturally appropriate guidelines for the climbing community and other recreational activities. Skye is also a part of the SCARPA Athlete Mentorship Initiative, which is working to amplify marginalized communities wanting to take their sport to the next level.

Chris Schulte

Friends of Indian Creek Board Member and Professional Climber

Chris Schulte is a writer and professional climber from southwest Colorado. He is a board member of Friends of Indian Creek, an Access Fund Climbing Advocate Award recipient, and a longtime member of both the Access Fund and American Alpine Club. After nearly thirty years of climbing and exploring across much of the United States and Europe, he is an avid first ascensionist, and spokesperson for climbing and public lands.

Richard Gilbert

Retired U.S. Marine and Climber

When Richard Gilbert bolted a new route at Sunshine Wall, north of Moab, he said he did not realize that he was compromising prehistoric petroglyphs. Nor did he realize the level of outrage and vitriol his actions would generate from the climbing community.

Moderator: Chris Winter

Access Fund, Executive Director

Chris Winter is Executive Director of Access Fund, the non-profit advocacy organization that protects America’s climbing. Access Fund represents more than 7 million climbers across the country, in all forms of climbing. Chris has more than twenty years of experience as an environmental attorney working to protect public lands for outdoor recreation and conservation. He also represented Indigenous communities in the Arctic for more than a decade, working to protect subsistence activities from offshore drilling.