Views from a Sacred Land - Canyon Country and the Bears Ears Region

30 April 2018 Published in News

Open April 27, 2018 - December 21, 2018

Canyon Country Discovery Center

1117 N. Main St, Monticello, UT 84535

Free with admission to the Discovery Center.

For well more than a century, citizens have fought over the future of public lands in the West. Some see these lands as essential to the economic vitality of the region and urge adoption of policies that give state and local entities a major, if not dominant, say in their use. Others believe that public lands represent the last best places where unspoiled natural beauty and an opportunity for solitude and contemplation can be found; they argue for protection from what they see as economically-driven plundering. Those who were here before the arrival of Europeans — the First Americans —have powerful cultural and spiritual attachments to these lands and believe that the archaeological evidence left by their ancestors require not only protection, but protection guided by Native peoples who understand the land, its flora and fauna and its cultural and spiritual significance to tribes.

The battles over the future of these lands has reached a crescendo in recent years. Nowhere has these battles been more intense than in Utah. Yet underlying seemingly unbridgeable divides, is a reverence for a homeland that defines their cultural and spiritual identity. Therein lies hope for finding common ground.

It is within this context the Canyon Country Discovery Center presents Views from a Sacred Land - Exploring Canyon Country and the Bears Ears Region. The photographer, Stephen Strom, reveals the stark beauty of this land. Strom’s photographs strip away, cultural, and economic factors, revealing instead other-worldly geological formations, vast open sky, and rugged red earth. Viewers are invited to move beyond todays’ controversies, and instead reflect on the beauty of this sacred place.

There will always be debates that create turmoil over how public land is used. These debates are important. But, perhaps seeing the land outside of these debates – seeing the land as sacred – will inspire those on both sides of the debate to seek common ground and create a healthy future for the land and the communities that rely on it for their cultural and economic heritage.

The images in this exhibition are drawn a pair of complementary books, Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land and Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land  in which writer Rebecca Robinson and photographer Stephen Strom capture the passions of those on opposing sides of the Bears Ears battle. Together, the books give voice to those who have historically felt silenced, ignored, or disrespected.  They share stories of those who celebrate a growing movement by indigenous peoples to protect ancestral lands and culture and those who speak devotedly about their pioneer heritage and the deeply held religious beliefs that connect them to the land.