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Indigenous Real Estate

In honor of Indigenous People's day, formerly known as Columbus Day, I'd like to throw out an idea for your consideration. U.S. land law, including both real estate and public lands is broke and we need to fix it by looking to the indigenous land "law".

Property rights are no more or no less important than any others, save perhaps the sanctity of our own bodies. Real Estate in much of the Western World, including the U.S., has put itself above the rights of others, and I'd allege even above the sanctity of a citizen's health. Public land law suffers from this hubris to an even greater and more damaging degree.

The balance between the wild and the needs of a community are deeply woven in this native law, this ethic. It is also a balance that is closely interwoven with the masculine and feminine natures of our own species.

Consider the nearby Navajo, their creation story is much about finding this mutually respectful balance - and traditionally land has been a matriarchal possession.

The Southern Ute Tribe has found a modern balance of sorts, successfully managing their oil and gas wealth to create a community trust that bodes well for their future. This success was not reached without drama. Curiously, former Colorado Senator and Presidential Candidate Gary Hart has written a fictionalize account that includes this history in his book 'Durango'.

In spite of the early hypocrisies of the U.S. Wildness guided and saved us. The Iroquois Federation was as much an inspiration as were the European Enlightenment writers.

The masculine energies of the early U.S. most certainly conquered the fearsome wilderness, but the frontier persisted for a long time and wildness was a de facto part of the culture. Writers such as Emerson and Thoreau reflected this. Walt Whitman best captured the overall zeitgeist of the America in the late 1840's and 50's - as well as the effect of the civil war on that idyllic, fertile, productivity, in his book 'Leaves of Grass'.

Though the frontier is now long gone thanks to post civil war corporate industrialization, including the mining industry that formed the State of Colorado, we still have wilderness. It is imperative that we find this balance not de facto, but explicitly.

The Trump Administration's management plan for the Bear's Ears is a case a point. Comments are due on that non-plan by November 15. The Bluff based Friends of Cedar Mesa group has more info on this.

Water rights are perhaps a more optimistic front. A recent Stanford Earth Sciences report on this subject, focusing on the recent victory of the Cahuilla Indians in California's Coachella valley documents this emerging legal precedence. First in time, first in right, yes?

Here in San Miguel County we need to both strengthen our wilderness protections as County Commissioner Hillary Cooper is doing - and find more space for us to respectfully live with a balanced transportation, water/sewer, and food system that transcends the industrial model.

We can also work to have our local Federal public lands managed with a much stronger component of indigenous participation.


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