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How can we protect a sacred landscape without knowing its stories? When one tribe loses their history we all lose a tie to the land.
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Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears, is an anthology of potent words and story by fifteen native writers who champion the protection of the Bears Ears area. 

"The necessity of being a voice for the earth is built into our ways of life. We do it for the future of all people but also for the future of our land, flora and fauna." --Cutcha Risling Baldy, Edge of Morning contributor

Hardcover Book - Cover Art Detail from "Peaceful Eve" by Shonto Begay (painting image courtesy Modern West Fine Art)
Hardcover Book - Cover Art Detail from "Peaceful Eve" by Shonto Begay (painting image courtesy Modern West Fine Art)

Bears Ears. It is a land carrying the past of over thirteen native tribes. It is a land of cultural, spiritual, and ecological significance that records the continuous presence of people for more than ten thousand years. It is a land in critical need of protection. Edge of Morning contributor Martie Simmons (Ho-Chunk) tells us that "to this day, it’s a matter of Land Grab Roulette, no different from broken treaties, a gamble for whose tribe will be next." 

But this land is not commodity, for contributor Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa). "The old stories say we are made of the earth. The earth is like us, living. We are responsible for the earth. The earth is responsible for us. It is not just that land is sacred, it is that land protects, provides and nurtures us, so we should, and it is imperative that we do, the same."

Desecration of Bears Ears cultural sites, of the land, scar more than rock and dirt. Contributor Lloyd Lee (Navajo) shows how: "The land is a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual presence for the people. The land is the core of what it means to be human and Native. Its vitality, energy, and power is reflected in the Native peoples’ narratives."

A coalition of five tribal governments—Navajo, Hopi, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni—has come together to seek protection for the Bears Ears lands in Southern Utah, a place they call both “home” and “soul.” The area’s hundreds of thousands of cultural sites and incomparable wilderness are threatened daily by reoccurring vandalism and looting, careless off-road vehicle use, and devastating intrusion by mining and drilling.

Tribal and Federal Group with Bears Ears Buttes - Photo Courtesy of Tim Peterson
Tribal and Federal Group with Bears Ears Buttes - Photo Courtesy of Tim Peterson

“We are talking about healing…Ruining the integrity of these lands forever compromises our ability to heal.” —Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

Bears Ears is located in Southern Utah and encompasses 1.9 million acres of ancestral land on the Colorado Plateau. Its diverse topography and unique land forms range in elevation from 3,700 feet to over 11,300 feet. Named for two distinctive buttes, the Bears Ears is bordered by the Colorado River on the west, the San Juan River and Navajo Nation on the south, and the White Mesa Ute Reservation on the East.

Abajo Panorama - Photo Courtesy of Tim Peterson
Abajo Panorama - Photo Courtesy of Tim Peterson

“We are a spiritual people. However, our holy practices happen right here on earth, not in a church, but in special places like Bears Ears.” —Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

The anthology will be edited by Jacqueline Keeler of the Navajo and Yankton Dakota tribes and published by Torrey House Press, a nonprofit literary press promoting conservation through literature. The book will be created in collaboration with representatives from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition as well as conservation groups, including the Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Diné Bikéyah, and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. These groups will use the published book to galvanize support for protecting the area and educate leaders and readers about its natural and cultural significance and the tremendous need to protect this and other sacred landscapes. Edge of Morning will also serve as a tool for other native tribes and coalitions in their efforts to protect sacred places.

The Dollhouse - Photo Courtesy of Tom Till
The Dollhouse - Photo Courtesy of Tom Till

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, backed by the support of twenty-one other tribes and pueblos, is petitioning the Obama administration to designate 1.9 million acres as a national monument. The designation would protect the landscape and its significant cultural history, thus offering future generations a connection with ancestral land. If accepted, the proposal will be the first instance of collaborative management between tribes and federal government and bring together both western science and traditional knowledge. If the monument is not designated, the movement to protect the Bears Ears will continue. Either outcome calls for native voices to tell the story of this important area.

“We can still hear the songs and prayers of our ancestors on every mesa and in every canyon.” —Malcolm Lehi, Ute Mountain Ute

Crane Petroglyph photo credit: Josh Ewing
Crane Petroglyph photo credit: Josh Ewing

WHAT YOUR GIFT WILL DO: Funding for Edge of Morning will finance printing, marketing and publicity, national distribution to all retail sales channels, editorial support, shipping, contributor coordination by the project editor, and gratis copies delivered to decision makers in Washington, as well as to Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, Grand Canyon Trust, Utah Diné Bikéyah, and other tribal and conservation groups to help in the fight for Bears Ears. Torrey House Press is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so all donations are tax deductible. Funds received in excess of goal will finance events that bring anthology contributors together for public readings and discussions. This book will be used to raise awareness and mobilize support for effective protection during the critical management planning process. Edge of Morning will serve as a model and inspiration for other native groups to protect other sacred landscapes.

The anthology will be printed as an elegant hardcover book comprised of an introduction, a map, and 15 essays and poems for a total of approximately 150 pages. Torrey House Press has secured a contract with project editor, writer and journalist Jacqueline Keeler (Navajo, Yankton Dakota), who is contacting native writers, scholars, and activists including Linda Hogan, Orlando White, Simon Ortiz, Jim Enote, and Navajo Poet Laureate Luci Tapahonso, as well as undiscovered native writers. Torrey House Press will coordinate cover design and produce early marketing materials including catalogs, online book metadata, and sales kits to help these native voices reach the widest possible audience. 

The project editor will collect and compile the poems and essays, and Torrey House Press will provide editorial direction and services to ensure a high quality, literary anthology. After editing, the complete manuscript will be sent to a designer for interior layout. Torrey House will have 150 galley copies printed and will mail them to bookseller trade magazines, booksellers, sales reps, and media. Finished books will be printed in November of 2016. Torrey House Press will send copies to Kickstarter contributors, submit the book to award contests, and provide copies to tribal leaders, conservation groups, and elected officials. Torrey House Press will arrange for readings and events with contributors around the country, including possible participation in Bioneers in conjunction with the Grand Canyon Trust.

STRETCH GOALS

This campaign will cover essential editing, production, and marketing costs, but additional gift will allow us to bring contributors together for events, print additional copies to donate to tribal and rural libraries, and record readings and events.

Give today to make this important book of native voices a reality.

 

Risks and challenges

"This is a continuing fight, a continued enactment of “bio-cultural sovereignty,” where the history is written on the landscape." --Cutcha Risling BaldyT

The collaboration of twenty-six tribes and pueblos is unique in its unity and organization, and the Obama administration has already met with the tribal leaders to hear their proposal for the Bears Ears National Monument. However, even now, the Utah congressional delegation is preparing to introduce destructive legislation that would prevent declaration of a national monument. And too few people know about the landscape and cultural sites that are at risk.

While it is hoped that the monument will be declared before President Barack Obama leaves office in 2017, the declaration is only the beginning of the necessary work of galvanizing local public and political support to ensure effective ecological and culturally sensitive management of the area. Edge of Morning will help tribes and conservationists advocate for protection of the Bears Ears throughout the land management planning work.

Tribal members and leaders of the Grand Canyon Trust and Diné Bikéyah enthusiastically welcome a book of native voices to assist in this critical effort. Even more important, because designation of this potential monument will be the first time the Antiquities Act will be used to preserve both sensitive landscapes and traditional uses for native people, this book will help educate the public and elected officials about the culture and traditions to be maintained on the Bears Ears, and will be available to other native groups seeking land protection.

As a nonprofit literary press with a mission to promote conservation through literature, Torrey House Press gives voice to important stories and writers that could otherwise go unheard. The press is governed by an eleven-member board of directors and is nationally distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.

Please help fund Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears to secure the publication and distribution of native voices and help promote the designation of national monument status and protection for Bears Ears.

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Funding period

- (30 days)