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Awareness of Place

For us, hiking often serves as a way to learn more about the natural and human history of the places we walk. In the case of our US hikes, it is also an important reminder of our country’s history of colonization and the continued oppression and erasure that Indigenous communities face. Each time we step across a wilderness boundary or pay for a permit to walk on protected land (to the park service rather than the original caretakers), we can choose to be reminded of our role in this living history today and choose to take action differently.


While we are immensely grateful to have the chance to walk in beautiful and wild places, we are never walking on “untouched” land. It is the responsibility of settlers, those of us living or moving on stolen land, to push back against the narrative of white dominant culture that tells us we are deserving of unearned privileges and begin to heal our country’s origin wounds. Recognizing that our own wellbeing is inextricably linked with the wellbeing of others.


There are many possible actions. One small thing we are doing is paying rent or land taxes to the Honor Native Land Tax (HNLT), the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, and Real Rent Duwamish. 


The HNLT, called a “tax” to distinguish it as social responsibility rather than charitable giving, asks settlers to re-distribute resources by giving monthly contributions to be split equally between The Red Nation and Pueblo Action Alliance. These Indigenous organizations do radical work organizing political education, direct action, environmental protection campaigns, and community support efforts. 


Before we hike or move through any landscape, including our homeplaces, we can ask ourselves: What is the human and natural history of this land? Who (and what) has been helped or harmed in the process of me walking or living here? How can I take meaningful action to improve and grow these relationships? In addition to the links above you can also explore this resource as a tool.

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