Outdoor Insider Fall 2017 - Page 11

Robert Lucero

As the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln famously said, we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. Although many Americans have heard these words numerous times, it is a mistake to underplay their precision, power, and importance. Advocating to protect public lands is one such necessary action—of, by, and for the people.

Today, it is no mystery that the United States finds itself in a heightened political and partisan environment. Advocates for public lands have been more active in the last 6 to 12 months than they may have been over the last 6 to 12 years. The past 6 to 12 months have seen a lot of “newcomers” to the field of battle over the ownership and control of public lands. One of the newest elements has been the amplified voices of Native American tribal leaders, tribal youth, and allies of tribes in the public debate over public lands and Indian lands.

Public lands and Indian lands have a special status in common: Public lands represent federally protected lands held on behalf of the American people; Indian lands represent federally protected lands held in trust on behalf of the Native American people, the ancient land trustees of the Americas. In the recent debate over maintaining and protecting established national monuments, public lands defenders and tribes have become open, natural allies. The Bears Ears Monument is a great example of the results that can be attained when public lands advocates and Native American tribes work together. The five-tribe Inter-Tribal Coalition on Bears Ears is an unprecedented achievement of intertribal collaboration—a victory for sacred land protectors.

Photos courtesy of the Indian Lands and Public Lands Alliance