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Indigenous People’s Month

Indigenous People’s Month

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Picture this: you and your friends plan a bouldering trip to Joshua Tree and are eager to explore all the areas you have yet to visit. It is easy to forget that public lands were created through dispossession of millions of Indigenous people. As a reminder, we are on stolen land.

Joshua Tree National Park is an otherworldly desert destination that climbers, hikers, and sight-seers come to set eyes on its beautiful boulders, landscape, and "spiky" trees. Since time immemorial, the Oasis of Mara (known as present-day Joshua Tree National Park) sustained Native American tribes including Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Serrano people, as well as the ancient Pinto culture.  

As Indigenous People's month is celebrated throughout the states we thought we'd take the time to realign our connection to the land from one of dominance to one of reciprocity. When we hike, climb, or backpack let us be intentional in how we do so.

Steps to take before/during your climbing trip:

 While you're on your climbing/hiking trip there are ways you can ensure you are being mindful of Indigenous culture, practices, and land. (This is by no means a comprehensive list and doing specific research on your local crags/areas is highly recommended before recreating outdoors.)

1Is the area/crag sacred to Indigenous communities? If so, reach out to Indigenous leaders and/or conservation professionals who are aware of whether or not sharing specific geographic areas will negatively impact the area.
👉WHY? Many of these areas do not have proper protection in place to handle a large amount of visitors.

2Honor spaces that are specifically closed for Indigenous purposes. If you peruse through your Joshua Tree Bouldering Book or Black Mountain Bouldering book you'll find that there are crag areas that are completely closed to climbing/hiking. Respect these closures.

Timeline of closure

3. Understand that cultural sites/formations/structures are still used in traditional ceremonial practices todayAvoid touching or damaging rock art.

4. Stay on marked trails.

5. First Ascents and exploration are NOT more important than cultural resources.

6. Understand that Indigenous communities exist in the present-day in various outdoor/urban areas.

8Take time to understand Indigenous communities that are currently and have previously resided in that area.

Source: @indigenousfieldguide. You can sign their pledge here.

How to support Indigenous communities this month and every month:

1. Do your research before going outdoors: an awesome all-around resource is the organization @indigenousfieldguide they provide public education on accessing the outdoors through an Indigenous lens.

2. Connect with a land advisor: connect with Indigenous guides and advisors to help you navigate how to ethically recreate outdoors.

3. Support Indigenous Brands/organizations: @nativesoutdoors, @indigenouswomxnart, @indigenousfieldguide @queernature @indigenouswomenhike @wildernesssociety

4. Educate yourself. Here are some starting points: Which Indigenous lands are you on?Books written by Indigenous authorsNative American Art in Joshua TreeOrganization that is dedicated to conserving land in Twenty-Nine Palms,

'As Long As Grass Grows' by Dina Gilo-Whitaker

Join us for Monday Night Meetup Nov 21st:

To show our support we will be hosting a raffle at Monday Night Meetup on November 21st in support of Native Women's Wilderness Fundraiser. For every dollar donated by Sender One members, they'll be entered to win an Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8mm 60m rope! You can participate at any of the Sender One locations. 

Where to find more information about the organization: https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/ 

Where to donate to Native Women's Wilderness: https://www.betterunite.com/nativewomenswilderness-everest 

Sign up for the event @ SNA here, LAX here, or Playa Vista here!

Take home:

When we advocate for public lands let us also advocate for the Native people who still feel the impact of 1492. People and land are inherently valuable and non-exploitable. When we evaluate our impact on the land and Indigenous communities we acknowledge that earth is not a commodity but a partner to us that we need to respect and give as much as we take.

Our Sending Community

Our Sending Community

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Words and photos by Melody Yuan

Ever had that moment while you’re climbing and you reach the crux and hear someone yell, “Yeah! Come on,” or “you’ve got this!”

Given how inclusive and supportive our climbing community is, it’s not out of the ordinary for a small gallery to form, and encouraging comments to grow louder as you grit your teeth up the wall. Some may even spray some beta such as, “match your feet,” or “raise your right foot to that hold by your hip!”

Whether you appreciate them or not, this is the nature of our climbing culture. The level of support and positive feedback helps to motivate me and push past my existing limits to stick the next move. While some climbers may find this level of verbal encouragement distracting and/or stressful, would climbing be the same without our sending communities?

When I first started climbing, I used to cringe when I noticed that people were watching or when they started vocalizing their support. I wasn’t used to it and I didn’t like the attention. Perhaps this was simply due to my self-esteem as a novice climber, but I felt pressured to send and embarrassed if I couldn’t.

Today, however, I am reassured and motivated by words of encouragement. Sure,it could be because I’m climbing stronger now or I’ve simply accepted the fact that I’ll never look as graceful as Margo Hayes while attempting a crux. But I attribute this change to the fact that I’ve gotten to know my sending community. Some of them are now my closest friends who have watched me climb from the very beginning, and we’ve established a bond in which I trust their words (and catch!) while I am on the wall.

 

What’s the Etiquette?

There is no guideline or real etiquette when it comes to giving verbal support. While I am a climber who now appreciates positive affirmation and encouragement during tough climbs, there are others who prefer quietude while scaling the wall. The initial urge of seeing a climber attempt a hard move may be to encourage them, but be sure not to overstep if you feel like they aren’t comfortable with the all the cheering and beta spray.

I once spoke to a climber who said that the term, “you can do it,” puts an immense amount of pressure on her as she climbs the wall. “What if I can’t do it? It just makes me feel like less of a climber when I come down,” she said.  

There are some climbers who also believe that beta spraying defeats the purpose of climbing. An older climber once told me that the only way to improve technique is to reflect on how you could have climbed differently. Beta for some, are only welcomed when asked for. If not, it might be best to keep your beta to yourself and instead, give cues that might help the climber make the connection on their own.

Most climbers can probably express politely that they’d rather not receive verbal encouragement, but body language is also a big indicator to whether or not they appreciate your words. You may have good intentions, but take a second to decipher whether or not the climber needs to hear what you have to say.

Sending Community

Whether it’s the friends who spot you, your belay partner, or the people who watch you climb, the sending community is a supportive and positive one. They are there to help protect you and motivate you to send your projects.

There’s no denying the feeling of satisfaction of sending, and the amplification of that feeling when the community congratulates you on the accomplishment. So I’ll take this moment to thank all those who have patiently belayed or spotted me, and to the many words of encouragement, fist bumps, high fives and hugs that we’ve shared along the way.

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