NRAC’s annual Diversity in Guiding Grant has partnered with Climbing for Change for the past two years to award two BIPOC recipients the funds needed to obtain their AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification. It's not to late to apply for the scholarship!
Funds will be awarded to any BIPOC-led local or regional diversity, equity, and inclusion work or project.
𝘿𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙬𝙝𝙤’𝙨 𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙧𝙚 𝙘𝙡𝙞𝙢𝙗𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙣?
As a part of our 𝘒𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘞𝘝 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘞𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘊𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘯, we want to highlight the importance of recognizing Indigenous communities!
In the 18th century, peoples of the 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘸𝘯𝘦𝘦, 𝘋𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘦, 𝘔𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘰, 𝘊𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘔𝘪𝘢𝘮𝘪 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘴 lived and hunted within the gorge. As they migrated, they would utilize rock shelters, also known as overhangs throughout the Gorge that are popular with climbers today.
-𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗼 𝗰𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀?
When climbers walk under the cliff line, they disturb the micro-root systems that bind the soil full of indigenous artifacts together. Rain comes along after the soil is loosened and removes artifacts from their original location, effectively ruining the context needed to inform us about the use of such artifacts. The Park has modified climbing routes in the past to save archeological sites that were disturbed by climbers.
-𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗯𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆?
We encourage climbers to diversify their climbing locations to protect archeological sites. Always practice “leave no trace” and do not remove anything, including indigenous artifacts, you find within the park. While climbing, think about the native peoples who were stewards of the land you’re on for thousands of years, and think about how they utilized the very climbing features you enjoy today.
Shout out to Jessica Lynch, Museum Technician at the New River Gorge National Park and Reserve, for sharing this information with the community!
𝘽𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙡𝙚𝙩 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙤𝙪𝙨 𝙝𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝙍𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙂𝙤𝙧𝙜𝙚!
Yesterday (7/28), Gene, Paul and Jay, all from the NRAC board of directors, met with a group of climbers to discuss the re-naming of routes with offensive names, and to try to gain some perspective that is not our own on that and other issues of inclusivity. In attendance were climbers of color and LGBTQ+ climbers. Joel Brady of SWPAC generously donated his time to moderate the discussion. We also discussed the evolution of our organization and where we can go to get continuing advice on inclusivity and social justice in the New River Gorge.
We'll soon post the recording of that meeting for all to see, and we'll update our Instagram and Facebook feeds when it's live. (IG: @nrac.official, FB: @newriverclimbing).
Brittany Leavitt suggested we reach out to Taimur Ahmad, Diversity Fellow at the Access Fund. Taimur and Jay hope speak tonight by phone—the second of aforementioned meetings.
The third is tentatively scheduled for Monday evening, an in-person board meeting, with several items potentially on the agenda. Those items include route re-naming, the addition of new members to the board, and hopefully, the formation of an inclusivity committee, which would ideally have its own budget and be empowered to make it's own decisions to a large extent, so it wouldn't have to bring every initiative to a board vote before taking action.
Personal note: I think some of the attendees of the meeting felt like we were pushing back on some issues. We're a little weary of messing this up, and if we seemed reluctant, it's only because we're trying hard to understand what to do next. We are not the kings of the New River Gorge. We simply don't have the power to pass out decrees, no matter how right and justified those might be. But we need to do a better job of advocating for people who have never been advocated for here in the past. We are present. We are engaged. We are trying hard, and we are determined to move forward into a future where everybody feels safe and welcome at the NRG.
We'll continue to update this blog regularly, with notices on IG and FB when we do.
Outreach Committee Chair