Free lecture by Shoshone Nation leader gives tips about ‘Honoring Our Sacred Lands’
What: ‘Honoring Our Sacred Lands’
When: 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16
Where: Park City Museum Education and Collections Center, 2079 Sidewinder Drive
When Darren Parry, chairman of Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, gives his presentation “Honoring Our Sacred Lands” on Thursday at the Park City Museum’s Education and Collections Center, he plans to take his audience on a trip into the past to help the future.
The presentation will look at the way the Shoshone Nation took care of the land before European settlers came and how those methods could help preserve local and national land throughout the coming years.
Being a Native American leader has given Parry a unique insight about land preservation.
“People have told me that they are starting to recognize the predicament we’re getting into,” he said. “They ask me how the indigenous people took care of it, and I’ve been thinking that in order to save the planet, we may have to go back to see how they took care of it this sacred responsibility.”
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This train of thought is important to Native Americans, because Columbus didn’t “discover” a wild and untamed landscape, according to Parry.
“He discovered a land that had been cultivated and was being taken care of by the indigenous people,” Parry said. “The people had taken care of this land for thousands of years, because it was life to them, and it hit home to me that we honor those who have come before in doing what they would want us to do and how they lived their lives.”
Sometimes the biggest lessons can be just about how people take care of plants, said Parry, who teaches Native American History at Utah State University.
“One of the classes is about the plants, and there are plants that were used for food sources and medicines,” he said. “These are plants that if you saw them on a hike in Park City, you would just think they were weeds. But they were important to the Shoshone, and the lecture will include how they used these plants to live.”
Parry’s grandmother taught him how to identify these plants when he was younger.
“She would take me out and we would pick chokecherries and harvest pine nuts,” he said. “Hundreds of years ago people did that to survive, but she still did that with me out of respect for people and a respect for life.”
His grandmother also taught Parry the dangers of overharvesting.
“She was careful to make sure we wouldn’t take all of the plants,” he said. “We would take what we need, so people who came after us would be able to use the plants when they needed them.”
Parry will also address some misconceptions regarding the Native American relationship with the land.
“People sometimes think Native Americans feel like they own the land, but we have never felt that,” he said. “We have, instead, felt we had a stewardship to take care of the land, and that hits home to me more and more every day.”
One of the challenges facing the world today in terms of taking care of the land is politics, Parry said.
“I hope we can get past the D and R next to people’s names and realize we’re all part of the human race,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to take care of this beautiful Earth we seem to be destroying.”
Unfortunately, getting people to understand that responsibility is hampered by the modern conveniences and comforts, Parry said.
“We seem to be caught up in living our daily lives, and we’ve become content,” he said. “When we feel content, we see no reason to change, and it usually takes something painful or hard to make people want to change.”
Parry sees the fires in Australia as one of those painful experiences.
“I was listening to the radio about the fires in Australia and thought we’ve got to do better with how we treat our lands,” he said. “It’s not for our generation, because we’re going to be gone soon. I’m thinking about my kids, grandkids and their kids, and I’m thinking about the kind of legacy we will leave for them.”
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