What climbers need to know about sacred lands

Our state has such a strong Native American presence and that's why it's important to educate yourself and respect these lands.

KUSA - Most climbers wouldn't dare to string up ropes and climb the Sistine Chapel. That’s because it’s considered a holy and sacred site. Those same principals apply when climbers embark on an outdoor adventure.

Colorado has a strong Native American presence – meaning climbers need to be extra wary of where they are exploring and whose land it is, even if it’s considered public domain.

So, what better time than Native American Heritage month to help educate climbers on how to preserve these sacred lands?

Len Necefer is passionate about this movement. He owns a tribal activewear company called Native Outdoors. He strives to teach climbers about where tribal lands are and how to recognize them.

“It’s the climber’s responsibility is knowing what is a sacred sight, like rock paintings or metates," Necefer said. 

This could be a sign of sacred lands like Arapahoe tribal territories in Golden and Devils Tower in Wyoming. Places like Devil’s Tower have strong ties to more than 20 ingenious tribes. 

Necefer says it's important to keep sacred lands intact by having respect and obeying the leave no trace rule. That means, don't litter, disturb rocks, and pick up behind yourself.

“People want to know but they don’t have the information,” Necefer said. 

He is apart of organizations like the American Alpine Club. Their goal is to help climbers understand how to coexist with nature. 

“There are some people in Colorado that say ‘I am going to conquer this 14er and conquer this mountain.’ And that is kind of like of all the elements about what it means for me as a Navajo to be out in the environment. It’s not about conquering it’s about coexisting and not trying to dominate it”

Necefer’s activewear company is involved in community outreach programs to help get the word out. He’s waiting on the financial means to make his activewear company a benefit corporation.

The idea is to create products that support outdoor education and economic development on tribal lands. 

If you want to help, visit his website www.natives-outdoors.org

For more information about this story please contact Amanda.wright@9news.com.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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