Last weekend, people from all over America traveled to a small corner of the American West to unite together on Navajo land to protect, preserve and pray for those wild horses threatened with execution in that community. While wild horses were the impetus for the gathering, ultimately, the prayer circle extended into a spiritual awakening for our shared habitats and collective humanity.
The Indigenous Horse Nation Protectors Alliance, a grassroots gathering in Window Rock, Arizona, was intended to heal, educate and open the dialogue needed to move forward and create sustainable management solutions for the wild horses on the Navajo Nation. The wild horses on this land have been a controversial topic; often receiving negative, propagated versions of their truth portrayed by the media that align with seedy backdoor politics. While large scale agribusiness interests have been a steadfast cause to the land degradation in the Navajo Nation, now however, oil, gas and uranium is the primary reason for removing horses off of the land. Despite the causes, the fact remains that humane solutions need to be created to restore balance to these horses, their surrounding habitats and local communities.
Wild horses have deep cultural and emotional bonds connected to generations of ancestry native to indigenous lands and hold a powerful connection to earth for many native communities, not just in America. The the relationship of Indigenous peoples and horses is one of the greatest stories of human contact with the animal world; understanding that our destiny is shared.
However, the roundups, removals, imprisonment and proposed slaughter and execution of America’s wild horses and these horses specifically on the Navajo Nation represent a forced assimilation and destruction of Indigenous people’s spiritual and cultural way of life. What happened to the ancestors of our Native Nations is equal in destruction to what is happening to these wild horses. That is why it is so important to stand up for the rights of our horses and habitats, to protect our humanity as we know it and restore a sense of respect for the understandings, teachings and ceremonies of our indigenous peoples.
“The Horse nation has helped our people to live and flourish; they show us the need and guide us toward a natural way of life. They keep our environment healthy but also keep us healthy spiritually. We must honor their sacred place within the Creation,” states Moses Brings Plenty, Lakota, of The CANA Foundation; a group actively working to rewild America’s dwindling wild horse population. “Today, we not only pray for the horses, but also, for the people so that they may wake up and remember all beings are connected.”
CANA Foundation is a rewilding organization and traveled to the gathering to explain how using horses to rewild our environment and people is just one humane alternative to managing these horses to extinction.
“CANA’s rewilding initiatives relieve the overcrowding of wild horses while assisting in creating opportunities for local communities through the auspices of the horse, human connection,” states Manda Kalimian, Founder of CANA Foundation. “As a result, degraded landscapes are ecologically restored and indigenous communities receive new programs, benefits, economic, social and spiritual opportunities.”
Rewilding also naturally rebalances land that has been degraded in order to sustain multiple use purposes; an ideal option for finding balance between horses and livelihoods on the Navajo Nation.
The gathering organized by The Indigenous Horse Nation Protectors Alliance began the conversation needed to protect these wild horses, educate the public on issues and offer humane solutions for horses on Navajo lands. But largely, it is the acknowledgement of the rising of a movement of our Indigenous people to stand up for the rights of our animals and our world, before it is too late to save. We as humans need to understand that in order to protect ourselves, we must protect the only planet we have to live on before it is destroyed. So, we go forward- empowered this grassroots movement to rewild for our lives.