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Native American Heritage Month: Respecting Cultural Sites

Happy Native American Heritage Month! This November, we are releasing a video series about respecting Indigenous places of cultural and spiritual significance. 


First, we hear from Barnaby Lewis, Gila River Indian Community Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. He discusses the impacts development has on cultural resources, as well as the lack of justice when people who desecrate sites do not receive proper punishment.  Our research shows that despite thousands of reported incidents on public and Tribal lands in Arizona, these crimes are rarely prosecuted to the full extent of the law

The second video features Justin Brundin (Cucupá), former Cocopah Cultural Resources Manager. He talks about the pain Native people experience when they witness vandalized petroglyphs. Justin also discusses the importance of preservation and respecting living landscapes for the future generations. 

The final video highlights Wilana Ortega, Substance Abuse Counselor for the Cocopah Indian Tribe. She discusses how we should protect, care, and honor the land in the same way we do for Elders. Wilana also shares about her work as a counselor and describes how culture is a path to wellness.



We’d like to thank our partners at Respect Great Bend for sharing interview footage and collaborating on this video project!  Check out their videos and learn more about their campaign to protect the Great Bend of the Gila.

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