Public Trust: A Dialogue on Sacred Lands, Outdoor Recreation, and Indigenous Stewardship

with Angelo Baca, Teresa Montoya, Jeremy Hunter Rubingh, and Ashleigh Thompson
Friday, October 8, 2021 - 7:00pm

As an extinction crisis looms and climate change continues to be one of the greatest threats our planet has ever faced, America’s 640 million acres of public lands support biodiversity and carbon sequestration. It’s essential that we fight for their protection by preventing the slashing of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, fighting the potential permanent destruction of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, and stopping the de facto sale of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Public Trust (2020) is an award-winning documentary film centering on three geographically distinct, though interrelated, public lands struggles. The stakes, as this film illustrates, are more pressing than ever. Followed by a conversation with Indigenous scholars and outdoor enthusiasts Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi) and Ashleigh Thompson (Red Lake Ojibwe) alongside producer Jeremy Hunter Rubingh, moderated by Department of Anthropology faculty member Teresa Montoya (Diné). (David Byars, USA, 96 min., DCP) 

Presented in conjunction with Relational Futures: A Symposium for Indigenous Land, Water, and Environment at the Smart Museum, October 7-9. 

Ashleigh Thompson (she/her) is a member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation and a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. She is passionate about all things Indigenous, especially Indigenous food sovereignty, storytelling, and wellness. Ashleigh believes being outside is paramount to healing and happiness, which she promotes through her writing and work as a sponsored athlete for Ultimate Direction and La Sportiva. She has given many presentations about Indigenous archaeology, recreating respectfully on Native lands, and creating outdoor spaces that are welcoming to everyone. Find Ashleigh trail running among saguaros with her dog, Benson, or hanging off a rope on Mount Lemmon granite in Tucson, Arizona. 

Angelo Baca is a Diné and Hopi cultural activist, filmmaker, and educator. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at New York University and also the Cultural Resources Coordinator at Utah Diné Bikéyah, an Indigenous nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting culturally significant ancestral lands. He is the director and producer of the award-winning documentary film titled Shash Jaa': Bears Ears (2016) that follows members of a unique tribal coalition in their fight to protect sacred land from resource extraction through a national monument designation campaign. The National Parks Conservation Association recently named him as one of "10 Under 40" dynamic cultural activists who make up the association's Next Generation Advisory Council. He currently lives in San Juan County, UT, and regularly runs the trails of Bears Ears.  

Jeremy Hunter Rubingh is the producer of the 2020 award-winning documentary, Public Trust. He has worked for the last decade at the nexus of politics and conservation in the West for foundations and strategic think-tanks where he developed messaging, media strategy, diverse voice engagement, and innovative tactics on a variety of public land and clean energy issues. He has also worked in film as an executive producer with the Story Group on the short film, Unacceptable Risk: Firefighters on the Frontlines of Climate Change, and as director and producer on several other short projects. Jeremy, a self-made thousandaire and caffeine-dependent life-form, currently lives on a small sailboat in Seattle where he feels lucky to connect with Puget Sound, old-growth forests, and the incredible mountains and volcanoes of the Cascades. 

This convening is open to all invitees who are compliant with UChicago vaccination requirements and, because of ongoing health risks, particularly to the unvaccinated, participants are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures (masking and social distancing, etc.) appropriate to their vaccination status as advised by public health officials or to their individual vulnerabilities as advised by a medical professional. Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures.