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So what is Native American Land Conservancy? So what we do is we protect and preserve and acquire, we're out to acquire lands that are considered sacred to indigenous people. And not even only here in the Cotella Valley or high desert, it's everywhere. We have different interests pulling us different places, always on the lookout to assist in the fight for land back. Basically to protect these areas and to manage them where we can. In some cases, maybe that would even mean giving them back to the tribe and that would be great. Sometimes though, like this place is traditional shared use. So in order to keep everybody at peace, keep everybody happy, we're happy to step in and manage it and make sure that we can all come here and use it. and get away from those terms like territory and ours, our land. We moved throughout everywhere and yeah, we had skirmishes. There were different things going on here and there, but all in all, we were moving over everything. We had different seasons. We go up the hills, down the hills. So it's all good stuff. and I'll see you next time. Bye! Time for 90 Miles from Needles, the Desert Protection podcast with your hosts, Chris Clarke and Alicia Pike. Hello and welcome to 90 Miles from Needles, the Desert Protection Podcast. I'm Chris. We here in the California desert were lucky this year in that we had a spectacular display of desert wildflowers as a result of a fairly wet winter. I know this is true for other parts of the desert as well. And as happens pretty much every time there's a good bloom the last few years, this bloom opened up discussion of social media, geotagging of photos, gatekeeping. Who gets access to these beautiful places? Who gets to be in the know about where the botanical action is? And this episode, as it turns out, is itself an exercise in gatekeeping. We spent some time talking to our friend Elizabeth Paige of the Native American Land Conservancy and the group Save Our Springs, who has a thing or two to say about why gatekeeping might not be the entirely bad thing it's sometimes made out to be. We met up with Elizabeth in a place that is kind of the epicenter of gatekeeping for one California desert community. We will not specifically identify it. People that live nearby know where it is. It's a property that the Native American Land Conservancy monitors for appropriate use. It is a significant cultural site, a spring with lots of petroglyphs, and it has also been abused over the generations by the descendants of settlers. We talked with Elizabeth about that. about the flowers that we were seeing in bloom there, about what it's like to be an indigenous person in the conservation field, both in agencies and in non-profit organizations. And in general, we just had a really nice conversation and time hanging out. We think you will enjoy hearing what Elizabeth had to say. Before we start out though, we are becoming a non-profit. We have an application in to the IRS for a 501c3 status and... We are very anxious to put our new board of directors to work and to offer you the possibility of tax-exempt donations, working with your donor-advised fund, just the whole range of things that we can do with a non-profit status, and look for more news on that in episodes to come. In the meantime, we couldn't do this without you. We have a new easy way for you to donate, either a one-time gift or a recurring donation. pick up your phone and text the word needles to 53555. You'll get a link that allows you to donate. You can save that link and donate later, check it out, see how it works. We just want to make it as easy as possible for you. All right, let's go off to that undisclosed location and our conversation with Elizabeth Page from the Native American Land Conservancy and Save Our Springs. So who are you? Hello everyone, I'm Elizabeth. I'm a desert Kauia person, member of the Taurus Martinez Band of Kauia Indians. I've been in Southern California my whole life, and I choose to be here for the rest of my whole life. And I am, I'm the education and stewardship program manager for the Native American Land Conservancy. So I've worked in conservation now for about seven years, and I came from a background in just living my life, just paycheck to paycheck, and not really getting much out of. what I was doing, which was banking for a while. There was a few other little odd jobs in there. Basically just been working all my life, just like my mom, just like my grandma. I didn't grow up on the reservation. I grew up kind of on the reservation because I was in Palm Springs, but not near my particular tribe, which is more Eastern Coachella Valley. But I do remember going out to the res for doings, for meetings and holidays and things like that. But I was pretty much... The only Indian kid in my class, which can always be awkward. So yeah. And then, so about living off the reservation, my mom had to work, my grandma had to work, and so they were always working. Never really had the opportunities to go camping. I didn't start camping until I was in my late 20s, and that's a little long ago now, but. Because everybody was always working, and I fell into that too. just because life happened. And then a few years ago, I just got to a point where I was just burning out the whole, am I anything more? Will I ever be anything more than I was today? So I always felt this kind of need to go back onto the land because I have these good memories of my grandma gathering like barrel cactus buds. and things like that. And she wouldn't teach me the language much. She tried sometimes, and there are moments when you're little and you just don't want to hear it. You're just a little scrappy kid who's, again, the only Indian in your class and kind of feels more isolation. It gives you that more of a feeling of isolation. So I was resistant to it. And then on her side, too, she was. told in school like, no, you don't speak that language. But I'd always hear her get together with the older ladies out from the res, and they'd be talking, I'd always be interested. But it didn't really take hold until that point in my life where I was just like, I gotta do something else. Like I have to just do more. Because I feel that tie, I feel that. And I'm not like that at all. I'm really pragmatic. I wanted to be going to science when I was small. So it's always, there's a line for me. I don't know. I feel it. I feel like the energy, but I also don't wanna. Sound all new agey or something Just cuz that's a whole other issue too I imagine so Here in the high desert where you know people want to tap into an energy that they don't necessarily understand It's not about that. It's not about gatekeeping that either but that's ours that's Our culture is our humanity. So yeah, I just started taking desert ecology classes and volunteering a lot of time. At the same time I was working too. I had two part-time jobs. Plus I made time to volunteer because at that time that was expected. I think things are really changing now and it feels good to finally be in the position to offer these types of jobs. Our site monitors make a good amount for what they do and it's great. It's a great thing to do, to be out in nature, to be taking care of it. And I think even just seven years ago that... you wouldn't get paid. Like, you wouldn't get paid. It would just be expected for you to volunteer your time. So I did do a lot of that. Through school, I got in a work-study kind of program with doing avian mortality surveys. I did the Mojave Desert Land Trusts internship. So I did that and it gave me a little boost. And then of course, I was always talking my co-workers ears off about... the desert and come out with me, come out hiking with me and I'll show you, I'll show you that the desert is not just this place that you've defined in your mind. Like you have to look carefully and lovingly to see everything and that's what you learn. Even just wildflower season, I know it's a big thing to be like, oh, you just can't be a friend of the desert during wildflower season, but that's a gateway drug. It's totally a gateway drug. Learn everybody's name and then you start looking for them the next year and year after year. And then even in that, you find new ones during the winter because you get fascinated and like just drawn into their whole life cycle. know that just because the desert is sleeping or dry and hot during the summer, it's not dead, it's not gone. They become like friends really? Yeah, they do. I like to make specific trips to visit certain plants or colonies of lichen. Just like the chuck wall, just to say, how are you doing? Are you out? Yes, absolutely. It's always such a pleasure. There are definitely sites that I've been working at, and I've had the opportunity to work at, and now I regularly visit. And that kind of came along with after I'm still technically a student. I got a job with the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission. So their primary function, or my concern, was the CVMSHCP, the Coachella Valley. multi-species habitat conservation plan. So in that there's tremendous amount of acreage that is dedicated to conservation that will never be developed on. So it was my job to get to know it and manage it in a way, help manage it. That was when I was a baby program assistant, which is only last year. But it was just so wonderful to be out in those spaces that I hadn't been acquainted with. So when I was on certain sites, I got that feeling again, wait. We're here somewhere, we're here. And it was even during the field job where I found a pestle, a mortar pestle stone, and this is sitting at the base of wind farms and like under turbines. So now we were here, we're still here. And even though the... if we were all given these lines to live within or to say that they're ours, not even ours. Like on reservations, it's not like that. It was all still, it was part of our life way, this whole desert. It's not only these spaces that we're in right now, it's everywhere. I really felt that connection and I visit these areas so frequently. And so I think during that year, I'd been talking with. Dr. Bob. He was encouraging me like, hey, why don't you come over to the Native American Service and see? Yeah, last year I had a position and it sounded amazing. So I applied and here I am. It really did encompass everything that I wanted to do. I wanted to be on these traditional spaces. I wanted to take care of these traditional spaces. I want to continue doing what I like to do, which is making friends with every plant and animal that I see, but also sharing that with Indigenous people. for indigenous people and making that reconnection to these places that we don't necessarily, it's not that we don't go here anymore, but it's hard to feel welcome a lot of different spaces, but we know that we were here for a long time. So yeah, that's what I love to do, just make that reconnection and I'm able to do that. with this particular job right now, be able to do some really wonderful things and even just a few weeks ago out at Bonanza Spring. So just by way of explanation here, Elizabeth and I make a number of references to an event at Bonanza Spring that involves young folks and their families. What that's talking about is a Save Our Springs event at Bonanza Spring, which is threatened by the Cadiz Water Mining Project. And at the Save Our Springs event, to which I was invited, I was glad to take part, the primary focus of the event was getting families from the Chamoevi Reservation out to the spring to see it. Bonanza Spring is extremely important to the Chamoevi, but because of lack of access, some of the grown-ups in the crowd, and certainly most, if not all, of the young people, had not had a chance to see Bonanza Spring yet. And so when we... refer to the kids clambering around the rocks at Bonanza Spring. We had a bunch of six and seven and eight year olds out there, a couple of older kids. And it was just a spectacular experience. I was privileged to take part in. Just like I'm not a kid person, I but I love sharing with kids and just seeing them just crawl all over the place, crawl all over the desert and knowing that that's the same thing that their ancestors did when they were little. And their ancestors before them in this cultural space that is public lands. It's inherently indigenous. Yeah, that was a pretty remarkable event. And I am not particularly a kid person either. Generally I have a limit of about an hour and a half. Yeah. Yeah. And that was great. No shade at all. It's just, it was so cool. They were totally into it. Yeah. This is very sweet. Have you been here recently? It has been a few months, and I haven't gone in this way for probably 10 years. Flowers! There's lots of flowers. Have you seen any torts up here in the last little bit? No torts, but the chucks are coming out strong. Nice. Big chunky. The what? The chuck Wallace. Oh yeah. Love those guys. So we'll probably see our site monitor, Sharon, who's amazing. She's been great. She like loves to holler at people. Like, very, get off those rocks! Wow. That's great there's someone around though. Yeah, we have a couple of them now and we're still looking for one for the old woman's. Now that sounds like a great job though, volunteer heckler. Yeah. You just stand out in nature and surreptitiously holler at people when they start breaking the rules. Yeah. And just a lot of it is... I'm sure there's a lot of other stuff involved, but... Yeah. It's gonna be a little annoying. Little cotton tail. Davut? Davut. Now where would these tracks come from? Jerks. Okay, yeah. They're still not on our property, but still, it sucks. Because they feel they can just come in here and do whatever they want all the time. because that's really not appropriate for this area. No, and that's what we get too. Like, my family's lived here all our lives. We can do this. We always came here. Try thousands of years ago, we've been coming here. Yeah. Morning. Look at him sitting up there. He's so cute. Who's sitting up where? Quail. Oh. Sitting up on top of the rock. Morning. Wow, look at all that purple clustered over there. Got a lot of faecilia waterfalls around here. Faecilia Falls. That's lovely. Ooh, nice. Pretty one right here. Oh. I'm the official, I think, trail photographer for the podcast. Chris never seems to take his phone out, so. That's a good thing. Yeah. He's in charge of recording and I'm in charge of documenting, I think. I'll take that roll. The chuckwalla crawled into the crack right above your head. Oh. Look, pretty. So pretty. Nice. Yeah, he's in there, you can see his tail. I'm gonna get you. I'm gonna eat you. We're gonna make tacos. He says, ah, you didn't get me. kind of nice low mallow in there. Yeah. Oh, that's the first bloom I've seen of the season on a mallow. All the ones by my house are just still with the buds. Aw, yeah. I wait eagerly for the mallows to come out. They are one of my favorites. I adore them. We had a real big one come up. after a flood and for the two years that it was thriving. It was my little bee motel and I'd visit it every night and look at the bees go into bed and watch the little petals close around them and it just brought me so much joy. Yeah. So I planted one in a cage so now I can forever look at it not just... That was one of the first things I showed to my co-workers when I used to work in. It seems so many years ago, but it's like only six years ago. I've been banking. And I was like, look at this bee sleeping in a flower. Tell me you want to do this for the rest of your life. They are the definition of how to do it. Yes. Ooh, nice This is a tobacco. Oh, yeah. That's very, very sweet plant. I tend not to share it with everybody though, because they'll come and they'll take. once they look for the white sage and don't find it. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I like to point at faecalia. Oh, maybe it's over there. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We won't share that photo with the world. We'll keep that one print made to us. They can go look it up themselves. We are completely fine with just having this be some anonymous, important cultural site somewhere. Yes, you can. Yeah. I have no shame in being a gatekeeper to sensitive ecological data. No shame. Gatekeeper, gatekeeper, keep them close. There's a lot of hate on the internet for gatekeeping. It's like, it should be available to everyone. It's like, you know, within reason, there's, we have to keep the desert secret sometimes. Enough people know about this place already. Yeah, I just recently brought in a class from. California Indian Nations College, and I love bringing them here. They tend to be small classes, because it's the lab part, and some people, like, there's accessibility issues, or maybe they can't make the drive up here, but it's just, like, always a real treasure when I find Native people, and I'm like, look, look, it's us. At this point, Alicia noticed some petroglyphs that were well high up on the rock wall, containing most of the rock art. a good 75 feet above the surface of the wash and certainly higher than most people could climb let alone reach. So would those have been more accessible at the time they were? Yeah, because the sand has been going up and down throughout thousands of years with the water. So while there are stories of, were our people that tall? Yes, they were. Probably not. The sand was giving them a little boost. And we can get that tall again. Eat your native foods, you can grow that tall. And what would this have been? Like a signpost? Usually, yeah, they're pretty much signposts. People like to say art, different ways of saying it. But these are, this tells a story of where you go to next. If you're looking, if you're traveling the desert thousands of years ago, you're making your way to the ocean or you're making your way up north. You need to know where to find water. So you'd come to places like this because your grandparents came here. Your great-great grandparents came here. And then when you get here, you see those signposts or roadmaps. It's a road map. Nice. Affirming you have found your way to the right place. Keep going. And it's obvious, too, because, you know, we have all these various water tanks throughout the desert. And to know where they are is just you got to survive. So that story is passed down from generation to generation where you can find the water. across all of our tribes too. So traditional use area, shared traditional use areas, is what these are. It's a really beautiful space. And the thing is, these are everywhere. These are literally spread out all over the park, public lands, and everywhere. So I've seen these same kind of coordinating signals, like 120 miles away, down going toward Blythe, and then also about 30 miles that way, going up toward Pioneer Town. They're everywhere, and they all tell the same story. They're all telling the same roadmap. So I think we should probably go up. There's this little ridge where you can go up and look over everything. It's quiet. All right. Morning. Nice. Little baby. So pretty. Hold on. Ha ha ha. These perfect little gardens couldn't be curated any better. It's just absolute perfection. Oh, and a buddy. Oh, Chonk. Look at that Chonk. Someone else who says Chonk. My dog's name is Chonk. I love to call my dog Atlas Chonker. And he's my little Chonklets. Oh, his Chonk. I say that too to her. I call her like, she's always hot. I'm like, am I hot Chonklit? Yeah. That's my hot little Chonky gal. And when I'm out with Chris and he shows me some big old desert plant, I'm like, oh, that's a chonker. Oh, is this a poppy? Pale yellow suncup. Pale yellow suncup. There's poppies around here and there's a lot of poppies around. Poppies and lilies. I just love them. I love them all really. Get me wrong. Wow, the visual intensity of the blue. I know. Of all of these. It almost hurts your eyes sometimes. Yeah. Intense. Morning. Now are these white people named Canterbury Bells? Is that what? Yeah, Canterbury Bells or Bluebells. And then what did you call them earlier? Facilia. They're Facilia? Yeah. Okay. I don't know our name for them. I like to know all the names possible that are out there. Yeah. Aw, buckwheat. Oh, these guys are flowering. Morabolas. Morabolas. Wishbone plant. What a beauty. I don't think I've ever smelled you before, Kamea. Do they smell? Do they have a? Very light, very light. I don't know, it almost has a perfume element, but it's so faint. There's some whispering bells over there. Isn't it pretty? Over here too. Ah! Oh, they're so pretty. Yeah, they're very drippy. Like those little flower faces, they're like, gosh, so delicate. Not much of a smell there. Little bit of a B.O. undertone. Oh, I love these. These are stargilia. That beaver tail getting ready to show off. Oh yeah, I've seen a few of those popping off. Probably right up here. Hello? Okay. Nobody's gonna come out and bite me. Hi. Puppies. Hi. There we go. We have arrived at just the right spot, apparently. I just love you. You're so beautiful. Yeah. So nice to see you. Nice view of Nolena Peak. I think that should be part of the foundational training when you're being raised from kindergarten through high school, those formative years of training. They need to teach us how to take care of ourselves, first of all. I feel like I didn't learn. And okay, they'll teach you how to do math and balance your checkbook. Just do the bare basics of physical exercise. That's all I felt like I got. And even then, it's not enough. When we were growing up too, we didn't really learn about any of this stuff. and it faces feces management and all the issues that we face in conservation because it's, there are so many people just have this image of tree huggers and environmentalists and granola eaters and it's just no we it's a very complex system full of everybody everybody's different everybody's coming at it from a different angle because of what they feel is important like recreation that does it's not only climbers that's also the OHVers and different things like that and you have to be able to sit in a room with everybody and coordinate at the same time. Stuff that's special to me is directly impacted by that recreation. It can be a challenge. It's challenging. But it's one of those challenges that I feel like... If it's met with love, that sounds super cheesy, but when you're bringing that energy and attitude to these difficult conversations, it tends to disarm the really hard edge that you might be coming up against. And if you can somehow lead by example, and that side can calm the hell down, and you've calmed the hell down, we can talk about your issues, we can talk about my issues, we can straddle compromise and conversation without. highway or the highway, it's all or nothing, silver bullets and that super black and white language in conservation, like soil erosion versus invasive species control, it's just, we've got to be able to sit down and talk about this without our heart rates going through the roof. And I find that to be the most challenging part of conversating with people who aren't in the conservation world, just random people I meet out there and we start talking around the fire pit or whatever and... I always feel very pressed to take a stance and to say, this is concrete, this is absolute, why we need to do this. And when I don't do that, I have found that people are like, so you're saying you don't know, and you just think that this is what we should do? They get really disarmed and they're like, that's cool, man. You're coming at this with your, I just feel like there's so much like, we have to do it. And this energy can be so malproductive. hard to battle. Every time I go to a community meeting I'm battling it. Yelling at the developers, the earth is not a commodity. Yeah, I think I come at it a little differently. It's just very nuanced and complex, that whole history too. So, I don't know, I feel like I would dig in more, probably, because I'm more of the mind that I know the way, I feel the way, because I am the desert. Everything that I'm made up of is from here, in this region. This is the place I know, this is the place I'm from. and that it's been that way for generations. I don't know. Yeah, that can be a little hard-headed, but... I feel like it comes from both ways, though. I mean, you're supposed to be alive, so... People want to shut you down because of what is happening now. I feel like that hard line of, but that's not real anymore. No, she's very real. This is very real. Yeah. And we can't ignore the past. just like these people who come in here and say, my family's been doing this for three generations. Yeah. Where's that entitlement gonna go as far as cooperation? And I feel like the disrespect that humans show each other when trying to be right is the weirdest thing. I'm not saying you're being disrespectful. No, no, no, of course. We just talking. It really just comes down to education. And what you said before is what I firmly believe too, is everybody needs to be brought up with this kind of stuff. And that's how we were brought up way back in the day. That's how my grandmother taught me about plants and different things that we do with plants. Why isn't that part of the conversation? Why hasn't that been part of the conservation conversation? All this time, because people are so disconnected from their surroundings. doesn't even make sense to them. They just see desert and it's dead and dry and brown and they don't like that. The ideal is green, lush trees. And then we have all the issues that stem from the forest being overgrown. Like we can't cut down the trees. Okay, they're gonna burn because everybody's competing for the resources, the sun, and you have all these dried out trees that can't make it. And that's when we get fires. It's like all of that stuff. we encompassed all that learning generations and generations ago. And then it's only now that we're being called on. So, I know it's a little again, complex, frustrating at times, because another issue is like we a lot of us have been far removed from that stuff. So we don't know sometimes. And you're being. shaken by organizations like, we want this knowledge, give it to us now, we need it. It's like, we don't know it anymore. Wow. Sometimes it can be like that. Please speak on behalf of all native peoples. No, absolutely not. I speak for myself. Now I speak for my family and the land and how I understand it. I also run a hiking group with my good friend, Sienna Thomas. We... regularly host hikes for indigenous women. And this is an indigenous-centered group. So what we do is we just get together, talk, gossip. We just share good times on the land and getting to know different women from our area, usually. we're related in some way, which has been really wonderful because we've done a hike out in the Santa Rosas and one of the women came and we're like, oh my gosh, yeah, I'm related to so and so. And it's just really cool. And yeah, we get people up from Menifee come out, way out from Riverside, they'll come out to the Coachella Valley for hiking. And yeah, it's been really great to lead. We've got a little website coming out soon too. And it's more just for us to reconnect with ourselves and then enable the ladies and families. And we do have all-inclusive hikes too. Sometimes I will have us invite an outside person come in as a guest to share in the experience. And yeah, it's been really wonderful. You can always watch or follow along or support us at Atchiquan Hikes on Instagram, and then soon to be atchiquanhikes.com. Nice. And we're not, it's just basically a community group, but we've toyed around with the idea of, maybe we can have a tip jar, like if people want to provide five or six bucks for gas, because it does take a lot to ask ladies to come out from different areas. That'd be great. That's one of the dreams we have for it too. It's not really, it's a resource for ourselves. and to some extent the larger community, but we just want to enjoy the land comfortably. People like to think that we're at this hilt of intelligence, so we're going to get things done. and it's just channeled into the wrong areas, just channeled into the same old, we're gonna do what we were doing before, just more efficiently or with maybe a little bit of, maybe carbon offset or something, it doesn't work. Think your way out of this in a better way, in a way that's more informed. It's just always, we're informed of the same old going on. Oil, I saw a bumper sticker, somebody was like, I love fossil fuels, oh my gosh. When did it become a joke that? These resources are going to run out. We're existing now on a timeline where if I had kids, they would be extremely affected by climate change. Like it's happening in this lifetime. Like none of us, all of us alive right now are going to be facing this. We're already facing it. Even in my 44 years, I've seen the desert go from one thing to another. I remember plants and seeing a lot of different animals in areas. that I don't see them anymore. And it's just so frustrating to know that people don't pay attention to that. It's not normal. It really is not normal. And if we were intelligent, if we were, we're all basking in our collective connectivity. But. Are we using it the right way? Are we focusing it on a new way to be? Or a new old way to be? Because the indigenous ways were sustainable. We didn't, yeah. I don't know, maybe people would say, yeah, but you don't have Starbucks. We had goods, we had services. It's just a different way that was completely sustainable for thousands of years. We did it in a way, yeah, there was less people, there was less of us. But I think right now, our population is... bigger, but there's room on the land for everybody. That's not an issue. I don't that's not an issue for me But it's the way we're using our resources. That's the issue So it's really Got me fired up Chris It's too fired up for a Saturday morning So we have saversprings.org. If you want to visit there, we are going to be doing a couple of different events in the fall, just because it's warming up right now. So I'll have a couple of different events. And these are indigenous centered. And it's very important to me and to us to be able to do this, to reconnect kiddos and families and take them out into the desert, spaces that we don't. get to visit that often. That's what we're doing. We want to make that connection to fire our people up, to mobilize them, to get them to understand that this is worth the fight. That's another thing too. We're tired of fighting, but, and we always have to choose the battles, and we have a lot of battles that we're dealing with right now. This is important to us. It's important to me. So, save our springs, start a work. Is there a way for people to make donations there so that they can help these events happen while not necessarily tagging along themselves like you have let me do? Absolutely. You're able to donate to the cause because it does take a lot of funds. We are a non-profit organization so we do need to provide transportation and lunch and programming for our families to make them comfortable and let them have a wonderful day. Before we tell them the terrible news. Which is my job. The terrible news is what I handle. Exactly. It was really interesting having to suddenly readjust what I was going to say to accommodate an audience of seven-year-olds. It's okay, I can go into the politics of the former administration and the Department of the Interior and conflict of interest, or I can talk about water and animals. But it's really sweet because one of the kids had a little story like that. Like somebody's trying to take this water away. It's like they got it. They understood it. That's wonderful. I think my favorite part of that was, and Chris is upset about that. I don't think that they got that on video. I really wanted it on video. It was obviously really wonderful to see the light in the kids' eyes as they were running around and confronting cliffs and being told, don't get too close to the edge and all that kind of stuff. I know. The thing is, in planning everything, one of the things I was going to do is do a safety talk as soon as everybody gets out of the car and tell them what to do, what not to do, what we want to pay attention to. You know, reptiles, sometimes snakes can pee out. It's a very good area for the Mojave green. which I haven't met yet, I really am looking forward to it. They're sweet. Uh-huh. The first thing that they do, the kids just spill out of the cars and just go wild into the desert. And they're like, ah! It was wonderful, but also, just as a volunteer coordinator, I'm like, oh! Taken. Yeah. It was really cool to see the adults were all taking collective responsibility for the kids being okay, but at the same time, that was just right at the surface, and then there was this... for those grownups that hadn't been there before. They had the same light. Yeah. And that was really cool. You don't see that as often. Kids are so much more unguarded. Yeah. I know there was a few different postings that I had seen from the participants, the adults. And it was really wonderful to see that they had a good time, that they had never been there, and just how beautiful the area is, and what it meant to them to actually be able to go see it. Now we were going to go see it in the future, which yes, we need to do that. It's very important to me to visit different areas, different places where, you know, quote unquote, it's very popular to hike. Those are indigenous spaces. My good friend and cohort, Sienna, who we run the hiking group together, one of the things she taught me was always welcome people. No matter where you are, you can be in the city and just say welcome, because this is your land. So that's one of the things that we like to say. And I do mean it in my heart, welcome. And just when I say that, I just want them to realize that they are in an area that is native. And that there are things that you have to do to respect it. Doesn't mean you just go climb all over everything. Doesn't mean that everything has to get geotagged on your Instagram. Not everything has to be amplified in such a way as to cause it more harm. This is how we see with the super blooms, the wildflowers. I've taken to just literally saying, here, flower. Like on my posts, I would say where I am or what the flower is, just because even that gets, my friends are botanists and scientists and everything, and that's great, but it all starts with just wonder. Here, look at this beautiful picture of this flower I found in the desert. Go learn about it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Or maybe that's just fatigue. It's only seven years that I've been in conservation. That's a real thing, though. I think it's seven year cycles, like relationships. Oh, yes. This is Larry. I tried and taught the creosote, optical. Oh, wow. Yeah, I remember when I was first starting to get into plants, it was as a result of having a job in a nursery in DC. And I'd get out to Shenandoah National Park, and I'd see. roadside stand of borage just in full bloom. And I knew it was from Eurasia, and I knew it was invasive and causing environmental problems, but I had never really seen it in full bloom like that. And it was just there and like psychedelic purple indigo. And it's a moment that I... absolutely will not forget and I felt really connected to the place that I was in even though it was a parking lot with stripes painted on it with an overlook down onto some farms. But yeah it really is a solid, like you said, gateway drug and we were talking about that the other day over in our wildflower jaunt out there. The thing I like about the welcoming people is it seems like a really... positive and creative subversion of the routine land acknowledgement thing that folks do these days. Land acknowledgments are for more other people, not for us really. I'm just speaking for myself. It's gotten to the point where is it for real? Are you really saying this or is this just something you're getting out of the way? Like I now I'm bearing on that side so I don't think I'll ever be roped into doing one again. I know where I am. Yep. I appreciated the gesture when it started and I think people generally really intend to mean well with them. And at the same time I think of sitting down to dinner in Vienna somewhere and having the Jose. First off I'd like to acknowledge that the painting on the wall there is the traditional property of the Rosenberg family. And just okay, what do you do next? Yeah. I think it just all comes down to again, just teaching people how to function on the land and the space they're in. Because that's inherent to us, but doesn't seem that way to the larger community sometimes. I have a question, I don't know if it's appropriate for the episode or whatever, but or if you even want to answer it, which you're free to not answer any question ever. All of my ancestry that I know of is, we're all European immigrants. And I think I'm third generation here, and I'm second generation born and raised in the United States. And I'm, I am born and raised in Southern California. And it's really a shitty feeling to feel like you have no home. There's no place that, like, my family comes from. And when I look into... Okay, I've got some Russian, the Malikans, the milk drinking religious people. And there's a few things that I can find. They're like, oh, the founders of Nantucket, they were pro women's rights. They were anti-religious. And little facets of my past have made me feel some connection to who I am and where I might belong. But it is such a shitty feeling to be so strongly feeling the earth and feeling so connected, but not feeling like I have anywhere that I... truly belong as a white person here in this land that is not mine, that I am the descendant of the invaders. Do you have any advice for how one could respectfully feel like they belong here? That's a very tough question. Yeah. Let me think on it. Yeah. I love you. Honesty is the best policy. I think generally there are a lot of people that feel the same. And I would say just getting to know your environment and getting to know your ecosystem and getting to know the cultures that surround you give you a good toolbox to make your home. to feel a certain way about an area is the beginning. And if the best way to make it your home is to respect it, that's the simple truth. Doesn't mean you have to adopt our ways or adopt anybody else's ways. I think growing where you are, growing your community, and concentrating on that, teaching everyone around you about what's important. the environment, about the cultures around them. That's the beginning. That's all we can do. And that's all we do too. All we do is become a part of where we're from. That's basically every single indigenous person and indigenous group on the entire planet. We just are where we're from. And that's what you have to do from scratch. You're in the same place. We're in the same place we began at. Yeah. So, and then the future maybe will be this whole amalgamation of all the different cultures, I would hope. With respect to each one, but also just one. So, I hope I gave you something. I feel like you spoke to my journey, which is, it's heartwarming because I want to have... the utmost of respect for this place that I call home. I only moved here 10 years ago. And I fell terribly in love with the desert, just all the ways, the good, the bad, and what some would call the ugly, which I don't think exists, but. I don't know, it can get pretty ugly. Death is ugly. Have you been the king of the hammers? Oh my gosh. I was just referring to nature and her raw self, what we're doing up in it, yeah, that's the ugly category. I've just tried my best to honor the land because I feel like, humans in general, particularly in a capitalistic society. They're just... Everything is a resource. Yeah. Everything has a cost. And it just hurts. I don't feel that way at all. And this podcast is like a bigger way for me to, instead of just one on one with people that come to see me and I take them out into nature and I'm trying to flick seeds and nuggets into them to have them start learning more and getting into respecting nature instead of just... It's not just a form of entertainment. It's not just there for you to consume. It's the symbiotic relationship. And I have found peace there, but. Yeah, no, same bro, same bro. It's like, that's what you have to start with, just planting those seeds and telling people, whoever will listen, you know, this is significant. Look at this flower. Look at this rock. Not rocks in my case because I'm not a huge fan of geology. Rocks. Rocks are rocks. I get it. Geologists can look at a rock and tell a story, tell the story of the human, not even the human, but the lifespan of the earth. Yeah. But I'm like over here looking at Chuck Wallace. I'm going, wow, Chuck Wallace. I love that about how people have different... Just their natural personality gives them the ability to focus on chepualas or rocks. Or down there in the wash where you were complimenting your monitor friend there. She just doesn't have any fear to say what she wants to say. And some personalities are like that, regardless of skin color, but I know that I'm more like you, where I find it very difficult to do the, I don't think, I don't know how to say this, but you can't do that. And then like the film crew that came here. last week. It was very awkward for me to do and I'm thankful that I had a couple of three people with me who were visiting from out of the area. One, Pam Colbacham and other couple from, I believe it was San Francisco area, so probably alone or something, but they were with me and we saw them coming and I was like... Oh, I think they have a camera. And in the back of my mind, I'm like, OK, I can do this. I can do my job. Absolutely. I had to walk up to them, a group of people, and say, hey, what are y'all doing? And trying to be how I naturally am. I'm pretty nice. But she starts crying. I literally just told you, you can't film here. The crying deal, though. I didn't understand that. Hi. No, she probably cries when she gets speeding tickets too. Ah. I don't know, I guess I could see that. I would cry too. If I got a speeding ticket. I've never gotten a speeding ticket, knock on rock. Ow. I am really grateful for the background music. I know. Wah. Gahel, gahel singing. Stargilia. I was just gonna ask. You read my mind. What a beauty with those long stalks that transition from this deep sienna red to that bright spring green at the bottom. Those stems are all, that beauty. Good job. Gosh. What? I'm talking to the plant. Good job. God, you got that down. You know how to grade eight from red to green, complementary colors. One of my one of my dreams is like a full on survey. Could we add three different dialects and whatever we don't have a name for? Why couldn't we come up with a name? Because there are names. Some of them people hold as secrets. And the thing is, like. The young folks need to be brought up with all of those names too. So we need to have a dictionary. And that's one of my goals. Place names too. Place names as well. See, but that's like a different, it can be sensitive too, because we lost. I won't say they're lost, because they're not lost. They're just either people can't remember them. But the whole thing is we were destroyed and those things were erased in a very targeted way. Yeah. So it's work to get back there. Yeah, for sure. And it's worth it, but it's definitely worth it. And I can imagine that. If people did the work to get back there, they might not want to always share it with greater society. It's not like Denali necessarily. Yeah. Even I hesitate to say it. I show different people different things when they come here. I show indigenous folks more than what I show regular folks. But I think that's it. It's a good thing. I feel like that's your heritage, just to pass that information on in that way. Yeah, exactly. Gatekeeper. But at the same time, people can say that. No, in a good way. I'm singing it to you like a like bird song. As someone who lives with two dogs that want to kill each other, I am a big fan of gates. Gatekeeper. You come up with a theme song. Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper. Keeping you out. Yeah. I love it. There's one by Fitz in the tantrums. I can make your hands clap. I hear you should get your land back. I have several songs that I want to turn into nature education anthems. Yeah. Oh, hello. We got a little chunk? It's a little chunk. Maybe a chunk with this tail that is regenerating. Hold on. Because it looks... Let me see. I may just not get a chance to see him without making a ruckus. Maybe it's a little chunk. I just mean like the tail seems a little short. Yeah, I thought so too. It's a chuckwalla. A chunk. A chuckwalla. A chuckwalla. Maybe had a little early battle with the bird. Mm. The chunk one. Bird, that's a sweet meat. Get over here, sweet meat. Yeah, when I was living over on Mount Lassen Street east of here, we had all of these iguanas all over. And you get the really tiny ones. It was clearly hatched in the last year or two. And some of them would already be missing a tail. It's just, man, life's tough. Life's tough for a vegetarian out here. Yes. I started pulling the desert willow and creosote blossoms off and just slottling them up and tossing them to him. There was at least one that as me would come walking towards me when it's on. It was really cool. Aw. Little friend. Tried to do that with the iguanas in the new place we were in, East of 29. And then we had a family of roadrunners move in. and they cleaned out all of our lizards. They were raising a family. They're coming back now though. We do sometimes leave the airplane noise in just to be honest about it. I remember there was a, I think a Flickr photo group that was photos of wild nature and you couldn't post anything that showed any evidence of human interaction or things like that. And I was like, sure about that. Wouldn't the photo itself go? Yeah. Yeah, I know. The reflection of you in the creature's eyes. There it is. I've taken tens of thousands of photos and hundreds of them I like. I think my favorite is a series up in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite of this really fat, fluffy coyote in November, walking along, going up to the Tioga Pass Road and looking both ways and then crossing. And I thought. Not only is there obviously a road there, but there's this behavior that the coyote wouldn't have if it wasn't for humans of looking both ways. And it's like that's so much more interesting than just a shot of a coyote standing there looking off into the distance. That's my moody coyote. Maybe that's why I'm so silly, trickster. Works for me. That's why I laugh so loud. That's one of my favorite things about the hiking group. Sometimes we laugh so loud, bouncing off the canyons, but then that gives me that feeling like, native women laughing on their land. And it's like a place like this. And that happened all the time. We're in a processing site. We're in a site that has hosted so many of those women and those culture bearers and the kids. You can hear them just playing all over the rocks and hearing the ladies, get down off that rock, you're gonna fall. I've been to a few spots this year, not too many for just to visit the nature, but the wildflower diversity here is by far the highest that I've seen. There's so much going on here. It is over-stimulating because in my mind I'm trying to remember the names of all these new ones that you sent, just the ones that I know is wow. Everybody's here, we've got some asters over there. That yucca I think, we've got those dandelions, the chia, the fascia, the mallos, it's overwhelming. The fiddle neck and like everybody's just so happy right now. Everybody's putting on a show. Beautiful spring. This was actually the first place that I hiked with Lara. Oh, sentimental. Yep, Christmas 2014. That's awesome. That was about the time that local neighbors who meant well, were trying to clean the graffiti off of the rocks. And they just went out there and did it without consulting with anybody. We probably got a lot more off of the rocks then. Yeah. Yeah, side blotched. Side blot, babe. Yep. seen a few whiptail babies too. Nice. The most uncommon thing I've seen here in the reptile world is a rosy boa. It was closer to the spring. I love rosy. I cannot wait to go herping again. I feel like I missed out on the whole year last year. because we typically, my little friend group, we go out to like on a loop, Oregon pipe, Arizona, to your kind of like go look for different things. I still have not seen a Gila monster, but we're usually out all spring and a lot of summer, dark nights, looking for reptiles, just to marvel at them. get them out of the road, keep them away from poachers. We've had a few of those interactions. Also getting caught like with the fake snakes that the fish and wildlife will be out. Here's my license, I'm not collecting, don't worry. But I could collect, but I don't. I'm trying to get some bird singers, so we'll have a camping space, private. bring some bird songs back to the Mojave, which I'm also determined to do because we don't have a lot of, at least not that I've seen a lot of cultural activities up here, not the same way that we do down on the lower valley. But I don't know if that has a lot to do with the demographics out here, but it could be or could be just a consequence of that kind of concentration of staying on the reservation. It's a bummer, but I think the more and more we do those types of activities, especially with NALC, the more welcome and at ease everybody will be in these old spaces that are our spaces. One of my goals is to make us more visibly out there in all the different agencies. There's a clamor for us now, yes, but I don't know. I just, I still feel alone sometimes. Or not alone, because I know. like my homie Sienna and I. But we want more. More! Yep. Those indigenous people doing that work, it's not an easy thing to join up with these organizations. And that's something I've faced a lot of in my short career, the amount of distrust that my community can have toward a lot of these different organizations that I've worked for because... Number one, I have my mortgage and I have everything else to take care of. And number two, it's important that we wedge ourselves in there. Yep. I think that the clamor, sometimes it can be overzealous, but that need for those organizations to now be pursuing us is kind of the direct consequence of us being in there and saying, look, you need to get Indigenous perspective. You need to do like over and over again throughout so many years. And now finally starting to happen. episode, season two, episode eight of 90 Miles from Needles, we'd like to thank Elizabeth Paige for her time and sitting out there with us on a beautiful Saturday morning. We would also like to thank our most recent supporters. They are Daniel Souther, Shelby Logue, Nick McElroy, Cindy Bernard, Eric Stamper. Gretchen Grunt and Zoe Dagen. If you wanna join the ranks, you can text needles to 53555. to 90milesfromneedles.com slash donate to find a bunch of different ways you can help us out. I also wanna thank the following listeners and supporters for agreeing to join our new board of directors. They are Lucas Basolta, Caroline Partamian, Eileen Lynch. Binkowski, Stacey Villalobos, and Matthew Crowdy. We have high hopes for continuing this year, and it is gonna be fun. Coming up, our episodes on poaching of reptiles, on the potentially disastrous Cadiz water mining project, and on any number of other things. Thank you so much for listening, and we'll see you next time around.