March 1: An Evening with Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams has been called “a citizen writer,” a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. “So here is my question,” she asks, “what might a different kind of power look like, feel like, and can power be redistributed equitably even beyond our own species?”
Williams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. Williams is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School and is the Provostial Scholar at Dartmouth College. She is also a columnist for the magazine The Progressive.
Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; The Open Space of Democracy; and Finding Beauty in a Broken World. Her book, When Women Were Birds, was published in Spring 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, honored the centennial of the National Park Service, was a New York Times bestseller, and also won the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association 2016 Reading the West Book Award. Her next book will be Erosion: Essays of Undoing (Fall 2019, Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
In 2006, Williams received the Robert Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2009, Terry Tempest Williams was featured in Ken Burns’ PBS series on the national parks. She is also the recipient of the 2010 David R. Brower Conservation Award for activism. The Community of Christ International Peace Award was presented in 2011 to Terry Tempest Williams in recognition of significant peacemaking vision, advocacy and action. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation.
Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. In 2015, She and her husband, Brooke Williams, purchased BLM oil and gas leases in Utah as conservation buyers. They divide their time between Castle Valley, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
February 22: Filmmaker Angelo Baca — Shash Jaa’: Bears Ears
Angelo Baca is a cultural activist, scholar, filmmaker and currently a doctoral student in anthropology at New York University. He is the cultural resources coordinator at Utah Diné Bikéyah, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense and protection of culturally significant ancestral lands. The National Parks Conservation Association recently designated him as one of “10 Under 40” dynamic cultural activists who make up the association’s Next Generation Advisory Council. He has published a widely read op-ed in the New York Times, ‘Bears Ears Is Here to Stay. Shash Jaa’: Bears Ears is Angelo Baca’s latest award-winning film about the five tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Hopi, Zuni) that worked together to protect 1.9 million acres of Utah wilderness through a national monument designation. The short film sheds light on the cultural significance of Bears Ears for the people who have used this land for generations and continue to do so today. In a 2018 interview with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “We Have Always Been Here,” Baca describes the relationship his community has with Bears Ears and his approach to preserving native lands. His work reflects a long-standing dedication to both Western and Indigenous knowledge.
Also of note: Bears Ears: A Photo Exhibition by Fiona McLeod ’19
Bears Ears: A Photo Exhibition by Fiona McLeod features a range of photographs taken within the greater Bears Ears region. Fiona McLeod is currently a senior at Wesleyan University, where she is majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Indigenous Studies. She is also a Think Tank fellow in the College of the Environment. The photographs in this exhibition were taken in 2018 and 2019, during which time Fiona conducted field research in Bears Ears for her Honors Thesis. The exhibition runs from February 18 through February 24 at Wesleyan’s Zilkha Gallery.
In 2015, in a historic coalition, five Native American tribes submitted a proposal to President Obama for federal protection of over 1 million acres of the greater Bears Ears area: a culturally significant, ecologically rich, and profoundly sacred landscape located in southeastern Utah. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is composed of representatives from the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni. In 2016, during the last month of his presidency, Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument, and with the designation came protection of thousands of ancient Native American village sites, artifacts, trails, and sites of spiritual significance.
In 2017, as part of what was the largest federal rollback of protected lands in United States history, President Trump reduced the size of Bears Ears National Monument by a drastic 85%. Currently, due to these rollbacks, the region is once again under the constant threat of environmental and cultural desecration, including oil and gas drilling, uranium mining, and illegal looting of artifacts.
February 28: Revitalizing Traditional Foodways in New England and Beyond
Rachel Sayet or Akitusu (She Who Reads) is a member of the Mohegan Nation. She is an Adjunct Professor at Hartford University and holds a B.S. in Restaurant Management from Cornell University and an M.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University; Her master’s thesis focused on traditional stories of the Mohegan and Wampanoag tribe and is available at academia.edu.
As the daughter of the Mohegan tribal historian, she was immersed in the culture and traditions of her people from a very young age. Her family founded their tribal museum (Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum) in 1931, which is the oldest Native-run museum in the country.
Rachel has been working for the Mohegan Cultural Department since 2013 and has also been researching Native American foods. She has presented her work throughout the country at conferences and classrooms, and has begun food sovereignty initiatives at the Mohegan Tribe; partnering with the health department on gardening events, cooking and storytelling workshops for Mohegan youth, and a native cooking show. Her most recent project is the Native Food Discussion Group, created in order to share knowledge about seasonal eating, harvesting, growing, and fishing practices.