This weekend a group of about two dozen people, including religious leaders from surrounding areas and tribal spiritual leaders, will meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico and make a pilgrimage to Bears Ears National Monument.
“It was important to religious leaders to go learn from some of the tribal leaders who are working to protect Bears Ears and who could potentially see all of the work they’ve done, undone by the current administration and to really stand with them in appreciating these places and learning from their perspective why they are sacred and how they are sacred to them,” said Shantha Ready Alonso, executive director of Creation Justice Ministries.
CJM is a national organization that works with Christian and Jewish communities to repair the harm that happened to Native Americans as the United States developed. The organization is directing this weekend's trip.
“Part of the process of repenting and of healing racial injustice has been recognizing the importance of sacred places to indigenous people,” Alonso said.
Joseph Brophy Toledo is a member of Jemez Pueblo tribe and will attend the trip this weekend. He believes it is important for people to come together no matter their religious beliefs.
“I’m not just talking about my tribe or native people,” Toledo said. “I’m talking about the yellow, people, the white people, the red people and the black people. All earth people and their belief systems. I respect every one of them.”
Alonso said although the trip is focused on Bears Ears, she hopes stronger relationships will be built between religious leaders and tribal spiritual leaders for the long term.