Indigenous Women Hike aims to reclaim ancestral territory in Sierra | FirstNationsFocus.com

Indigenous Women Hike aims to reclaim ancestral territory in Sierra

Special to First Nation’s Focus

RENO, Nev. — This August, members of Indigenous Women Hike will be traveling our ancestral trade routes — Nuumu Poyo — in prayer to honor our relatives who came before us and to strengthen our connection to Mother Earth and the sacred places inside ourselves.

We are nine Indigenous Women representing the Nuumu, Dine, Yokut, Nde and Picuiris/Latinx. As Indigenous women, we unite in sisterhood. Through strength and perseverance, we will travel 210 miles from the Valley of Yosemite to the peak of Mt. Whitney, as Mother Earth permits.

In order to prepare ourselves and achieve balance within our minds, bodies and spirits, we will nourish our inherent connection to the land and heal through healthy life choices.

Each woman brings her own unique qualities and energy to this movement. The powerful women on this journey consist of language revitalizers, land defenders, water protectors, Indigenous Rights activists and social justice organizers.

“Continuing to use language and titles such as the ‘John Muir Trail,’ which derives from settler colonialism, contributes to the erasure of our histories and ancestral knowledge.”

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As sisters, we uplift one another to ensure the completion of trekking this beautiful territory our ancestors call home. Through this journey, we hope to not only empower ourselves, but also, to create thriving communities and instill pride for the land we’ve always been a part of. Through existing relationships with organizations, we engage youth in activities that strengthen their connection to the earth.

Western history teaches us John Muir was the original environmentalist and the man responsible for the creation of "Yosemite National Park." However, what many people don't realize is not only did Muir view the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra region as inferior, he contributed to the genocide of Indigenous Peoples by forcibly removing them from the land with the creation of National Parks and forests.

Our ancestral trade routes have an extensive history that predates colonization and John Muir. He did not create these trails. He followed trails that have been here for thousands of years.

Continuing to use language and titles such as the “John Muir Trail,” which derives from settler colonialism, contributes to the erasure of our histories and ancestral knowledge. People come from all over the world to recreate in our homelands, yet they fail to acknowledge the first peoples of these territories.

Under the American Indian Religious Freedom act of 1978, we assert our right to self-determination by traveling through our homelands without permits. We walk to bring awareness around Indigenous issues such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit visibility, water rights, land protection, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide and self-harm, and environmental and food justice.

The healing of a community begins with the healing of women. We are walking in prayer to honor those who came before us and for future generations to come.

This article was co-written by Jolie Verela, Anna Hohag, Autumn Harry, Jaylyn Gough and Amelia Vigil, all members of Indigenous Women Hike. Go to indigenouswomenhike.com or facebook.com/indigenouswomenhike to learn more about the effort.