Above : Bear Ears National Monument (Photo credit: Tim Peterson)

Above: Bear Ears National Monument (Photo credit: Tim Peterson)

Ahjani Yepa with Bears Ears in the distance.

Ahjani Yepa with Bears Ears in the distance.

The Open Space of Democracy is supported by Patagonia and implemented in partnership with Native communities including Utah Diné Bikéyah. The project aims to strengthen leadership among those taking a stand for our public lands, in particular, those with the longest history of championing land protection and management: Native communities. This project has a special focus on Native women, and connects Native leaders with each other, as well as with allies and other leaders who are focused on public lands, climate change, and the nation’s future, in order to heal, build alliances, and inspire action.

Ahjani Yepa shares: “As a Pueblo woman working to Protect Bears Ears, I am allowed to connect myself to my ancestors within a multi-tribal history with the land. I am blessed to experience chapters of our shared Pueblo history, preserved within the ancestral structures across the Bears Ears landscape, and to witness messages from the ancient relatives in-scripted on canyon walls. Indigenous Women and mothers share the sacred connection of life bearers with our Earth Mother. Because of this, it’s important to respect Indigenous women and our cultural knowledge. Revitalization of women’s traditional knowledge, to me, includes a healing process of re-matriation and centering life bearers and feminine beings; and restoring balance of all genders to our homes, ceremonies and community. Most importantly, it includes being a mother and passing on my lessons as a Pueblo woman to my daughter — teaching her that she is an extension of a long line of matriarchs that reaches back, thousands of years and hundreds of miles, to ancestral sites like Pecos Pueblo, Chaco Canyon, Bears Ears, and Mesa Verde.” (Source: UDB)