The last few days of rallies marked the third week in a row that citizens of Salt Lake City gathered by the hundreds to protest the new administration and rally for our earth. Saturday, May 6, at the Utah State Capitol protesters showed up to protect Bear Ears and Grand Staircase monuments from being hucked off to the highest bidder for drilling. As you may know, Utah’s monuments are sitting atop nice thick layers of shale oil, the Utah mining industry could make a quick buck. But if we look at this history with Moab, a once mining capital for Uranium that crashed thirty years later, we can see that a quick buck for the mining industry doesn’t last through generations. According to the Deseret News, “Moab is a key player in an outdoor recreation economy that in Utah generates $856 million in state and local tax revenue. Well more than 70 percent of the jobs in Grand County — 2,440 as of 2012 — derive from tourism… The extraction industry supports just 2 percent of the jobs in Grand County.” We can see that protecting our monuments for the sake of tourism is much more profitable than oil extraction. Not to mention the sheer respect for the sacred tribal lands many of these monuments were created to protect. Secretary Ryan Zinke arrived in town on Sunday, May 7 to look into whether or not Utahn’s really care about out monuments. So, we all showed up to tell him how we really feel.
Saturday was a rally at the State Capital where great speeches were given by some of our Native American brothers and sisters. They didn’t leave many of us with dry eyes, but definitely with bigger hearts. Being in the soul of these crowds, surrounded by hundreds of Utah locals of whom I know share my values in protecting our land, it’s becoming an addiction to live for. The warm feeling of family I find at these protests is something I wish that I could convey better with my words. When I am at these protests, there is no where else in the world I feel I need to be. I thrive best in these situations. I’ve spent a so much time on these state capital steps, snapping pictures and live streaming footage for our readers. I’ve begun to recognize people due to their original picket sings and even make a few friends. I am watching a movement blossom before my eyes.
Sunday afternoon we returned to the Bureau of Land Management offices to hopefully catch Zinke’s eye as he pulls into or out of the parking lots under the Gateway. As we filled the sidewalks, more and more folks showed up with their signs and voices. Cars honked in support as they drove by, news reporters questioned and filmed every one. Before I could notice, the whole square was lined with monument protectors rallying. Every one at the Gateway heard our chanting, there’s no way Zinke didn’t notice us.
As someone who felt like a lone wolf in the activism world for many many years, I am so thrilled to see so many of my neighbors get out of their comfort zones and use their voices to fight for what matters. Suddenly I feel that all my years of hopeful optimism have paid off in a funny, ironic way. While we enter a dark era for leadership in our country, we walk into a bright era full of rainbow lights for activism, social justice and earth protection!
Never give up the good fight. Xo. Jane.