273.5 miles hiked
It’s a warm morning with the sun fighting with the clouds and no shade, on account of the tallest trees burning long ago and I ate the wrong combination of bars? Or something and my stomach hurts and I’m listening to more of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and it’s breaking my heart.
For example, the part where, in the 1870s, a band of Northern Cheyenne are fleeing a reservation to head back to their stolen ancestral lands on account of the fact that the reservation is essentially a death camp- rations hardly ever arrive and are often spoiled, no game to hunt bc the white people killed all the buffalo (3 million animals dead in two years, their bodies rotting on the praries), malaria but no medicine, everyone held like prisoners- and while in flight the Cheyenne pass through what was stolen from them but has just now been minted as the first national park- Yellowstone. There are white tourists in the park already, admiring the geysers. General Sherman is also there, to inspect the park. He orders troops from forts in every direction, and the soldiers come marching in. The fleeing Cheyenne are slaughtered.
Every non-indigenous long distance hiker should read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The stories therein will cover the lands you have hiked in, I promise. You will recognize mountain ranges, rivers, valleys. You will start to notice place names, and connect them with their history. It will change the way you see land management and conservation as it relates to American history. You will see, while sitting in the forest eating your snacks on a trail that was once an indigenous trading route, or on a wagon track named after a general, how white supremacy informs everything around you. And once you see this it cannot be unseen.
Also, get the Native Land app. It will tell you whose stolen land you are on. Look up information about these people. Read books on them. This is how I found Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee- it has a lot of history about the colonization of Arizona, and I wanted to learn more about that. Get audiobooks, so you can listen to them while you hike. Use the Libby app to get audiobooks from your library- it’s sicc.
Next, find an indigenous led organization in a place that feels like home to you, or where you spend a lot of time, and support them with money or whatever other resources that they need. These lands cannot talk but the people are still here, and they sure can. Seek them out, and listen to them.
Also, talk to other outdoors people about the white supremacist history of the outdoors culture in the US. Normalize these conversations. Get your white friends to read articles and books. Download Layla F. Saad’s free Me and White Supremacy workbook, and have your friends download it too.
We have lunch in the dirt. We’re so dirty this section. We gather water from a stock pond the color of chocolate milk complete with slimy green blobs and an oily sheen on top and work it over with the sawyer squeeze and the steripen both. I have reception and I order a new pack- my current pack is so full of rips and tears that is has become unmendable. So it goes. We’re looking at the spiderweb of forest service roads on the map, and we realize there’s a more direct way to walk into Show Low today, if we leave the meandering singletrack that takes us south of town and walk these forest service roads straight towards it instead. Choose your own adventure. A few hours later we’ve reached the highway, and we put our thumbs out. A sign says Show Low, founded 1870. Oh god, I think. That’s exactly when this land was stolen from the Apaches. They were massacred and driven out so that white settlers could do what they wanted with this land. Of course Show Low was founded then.
A silver haired woman gathers us up in her large pickup and takes us to our motel, the KC Motel, which is across from CVS, the Post Office and a Mexican restaurant called Los Corrales that has food that Muffy can eat. The motel also has laundry, which is incredible. I shower, watching the brown water swirl in the blinding white tub. We eat too much food. I’ve decided to wash my sleeping bag, which means committing to spending many hours next to the dryer, waiting for it to refluff all the way on low heat, so for the rest of the evening I do that.
I’m using these blog posts to help raise money for Francis, an El Salvadoran refugee who is raising funds for an asylum appeal. You can view his fundraiser here.
Day 21 from the MRT will go up on this blog when his fundraiser reaches $3,200 Let’s help Francis get the support he needs! Click here to check it out. And thank you! 😀