Interview with Jolie Varela on Payahüünadü, "The Place of Flowing Water"

Entering her 30th thirtieth year, Jolie has now dedicated her life to the health of her people. Since going to Standing Rock to resist the North Dakota Pipeline, Jolie has sought ways to bring the momentum home to Payahüünadü. She has organized many events to spread awareness about the water war going on between Payahüünadü and Los Angeles. South of Lone Pine, California sits the dry Owens Lake, which once held significant water. In 1913, due to the water being diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, as well as for the use of cattle ranching, the Owens Lake water levels dropped. Now, as of 2013, Owens Lake is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.[1] For NPR, Kirk Siegler reported, “…it’s a salt flat the size of San Francisco, and when the wind blows, it can churn up huge dust storms with high levels of particulates that are dangerous to breathe.”

Exploitation of Native Imagery For Profit

Walmart selling Native images on products is only one example of the continued exploitation of Native imagery and culture. As Native people, we see how Native imagery has been co-opted by non-Natives to secure their own agendas – whether it’s pushed by capitalism, being the white savior, cultural appropriation, or even furthering the acceptance of pan-indianism. The dehumanization of Native people runs deep through the veins of this country.

Why You Did Write About the Closure

"During the legal proceedings of Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association versus Babbitt (1998) - the lawsuit over the climbing management plan at Bear Lodge (aka Devils Tower National Monument) - the judge suggested to the Cheyenne River Sioux attorney that the tribes had bigger things to worry about than some people climbing some sacred rock. Such attitudes, unfortunately, continue to this day, and were evidenced in some of the discussions earlier this summer among climbers regarding the voluntary June closure. A few blog posts were particularly outrageous, and this essay is a response to some of the harmful rhetoric, assumptions, and erasure contained within those posts. Because when 'getting along' means continuing a status quo of white supremacy and the erasure of Native American beliefs, voices, and existence, we can't just all 'get along.'" - Anna Kramer

The Bears Ears: Cultural Appropriation in the Outdoor Industry and Why “Public” Lands Are Not Public

The fight to keep the Bears Ears a National Monument has the outdoor community clamoring to speak on why this place is “spiritual” to them, that it summons “out of body experiences and how their athleticism is “ritualistic.” The erasure of Native American culture in popular outdoor media is a part of the institutionalized racism and violence towards Native American communities. The outdoor community is perpetuating the oppression of Native American communities through cultural appropriation[1]; by climbing on sacred monuments for recreation or paid work, white-washing or completely erasing the history of the lands, and stealing elements of Native American culture for profit. In the outdoor community thee is cultural appropriation in written accounts like Morgan Sjogren’s, “Run to the Sunrise,” which is complete with a photo of Sjogren posing with a feather in her hair, a sacred ritual for many Native tribes.

Cedar Wright’s Advice to Women: If You Want to be Taken Seriously as a Climber “Don’t Wear Booty Shorts!”

Wright dug himself a hole (without realizing it) on episode 106 of the Enormocast, a climbing podcast hosted by Chris Kalous. He tells women that if they want to be taken seriously as climbers that they shouldn’t wear booty shorts. This kind of humor deflects the real issue and reinforces rape culture. Blaming women for not being taken seriously because of their choice of clothing is akin to saying that a woman who was raped was asking for it. This places the blame on the victim. Without realizing it, Wright, through his language, has hit the nail on the head: we cement value to women based on what they wear. Women are held to value judgments solely based on their sex appeal through the white, hetero, cis male gaze.

All of the rhetorical aversions and desperate rationalizations that people often throw at women for standing up for their autonomous space gets exhausting. The industry is stagnate and slow to real change because the poster boys of climbing take up the majority of the space. The question is, are they willing to correct themselves and be advocates for women and minorities taking up more space? Thankfully, women like Kathy Karlo are here to re-write the narrative and create that space.

About Water

Activism is ramping up in the good-old-boy town of Bishop, California. "We are all water protectors,” Varela reminded the community at an event called, "About Water." The yoga studio was full of community members who gathered to support Jasmine Amara and Jen Fedrizzi during their inaugural event to raise awareness about water. “At this time it feels increasingly important for me to use art, music, and poetry as an avenue for healing, informing, and resisting,” reflects Amara on her personal website.Inspired by their relationship with water, and the knowledge that Los Angeles is draining the Owens Valley, Amara and Fedrizzi teamed up to create conversations about living harmoniously with our planet’s most precious life source. The work includes images from Payahüünadü, or the Owens Valley, which is one of L.A.’s main water sources today, as well as images of food trucks and concrete landscapes that contribute to water decimation.

Scorched Earth

The war on terror is not far away in the Middle East. It is right here, sitting with us right now. Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, Honor the Earth and movements like these keep me going. When someone says to me there’s no point, I think about Tawakul Karman, Aung San Suu Kyi, Angela Davis, Edward Snowden, bell hooks, Laura Poitras, Margaret Jacobsen, Diane Maxey, and my friend, Jolie Varela who lives here in Bishop, who is starting a cultural revitalization project here in the valley. It is time we connect on a deep, individual level with the people who we live among, the people who are sitting beside, and the people who are not here, who live off Barlow Lane, those who have ancestors resting under the dirt, largely unmarked, without tombstones, where often a dirtbiker will plow over their graves like its their God-given right.

Economic Refugees

Gentrification is modern colonialism – whiteness benefits from it, and even “the aesthetic and cultural aspects of the process assert a white Anglo appropriation of urban space and urban history,” reveals Rowland Atkinson and Gary Bridge in their book, Gentrification in a Global Context: The New Urban Colonialism. Our American society has short-term memory loss. Often, we forget the greatly destructive implications and lasting consequences of “old world” conquests. Why do we glorify Alex Honnold for living out of his car, and ignore those who do it out of necessity?

Blood Memory

When I was twenty-six, I went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to meet my then boyfriend's family. I think after that I knew that we could never work. It's not that his family wasn't welcoming, they were fine. We watched slide shows of his family vacations to Mexico, bike rides through the Grand Canyon, and holidays at their home in Mt. Hood. 

Ten Ways REI Could Make Systemic Change and Actually Empower Women to be Forces of Nature

1.    Give gear and clothes to the houseless

2. Acknowledge feminism, the intricacies of the feminist movement and its history, and that feminism is the driving force of true women and minority empowerment

2.   Support and sell books by authors of color who talk about the systemic issues related to getting outside: Jourdan Imani Keith, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Lauret Savoy, Carolyn Finney, James E. Mills, Dianne D. Glave, Camille T. Dungy, Dorceta E. Taylor, Alison Hawthorne

Hell Hath No Fury

On this day, dedicated to celebrating women (wow, we get a whole day!), a woman scorned speaks out on the anniversary of a chaos-inducing essay. In honor of Women's Day, this essay features horrible, gender-essentializing, fat-stigmatizing, and whiteness-loving advertisements for a hip activewear brand. On women's day, let's acknowledge the bullshit we are fed through media, societal structures, norms, and cultural conditioning.