Public Trust: A Dialogue on Sacred Lands, Outdoor Recreation, and Indigenous Stewardship

An illustration of a person in a suit carving a cake in the shape of the United States. To the right it reads Patagonia films Public Trust The Fight for America's Public Lands

A film program presented as part of Relational Futures: A Symposium for Indigenous Land, Water, and Environment

As an extinction crisis looms and climate change continues to be one of the greatest threats our planet has ever faced, America’s 640 million acres of public lands support biodiversity and carbon sequestration. It’s essential that we fight for their protection by preventing the slashing of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, fighting the potential permanent destruction of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, and stopping the de facto sale of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Public Trust (2020), an award-winning documentary film by David Garrett Byars, follows three geographically distinct, though interrelated, public lands struggles. The stakes, as this film illustrates, are more pressing than ever.

Hosted by UChicago’s Film Studies Center and Cinema and Media Studies as part of the symposium Relational Futures, this screening will be followed by a discussion around the legacy of public lands appropriation and the role of Indigenous activism in reminding us whose lands we are fighting to protect, featuring Indigenous scholars and outdoor enthusiasts Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi) and Ashleigh Thompson (Red Lake Ojibwe) alongside producer Jeremy Hunter Rubingh and Anthropology faculty member Teresa Montoya (Diné).

Register for the film program

FREE, open to the public. Space is limited, please register in advance.

About the presenters

  • Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi), Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology, New York University and the Cultural Resources Coordinator at Utah Diné Bikéyah
  • Ashleigh Thompson (Red Lake Ojibwe), Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology, The University of Arizona
  • Jeremy Hunter Rubingh, producer, Public Trust
  • Moderator: Teresa Montoya (Diné), Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow and incoming Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

Relational Futures is presented in conjunction with the D’Arcy McNickle Distinguished Lecture series at the Newberry Library and the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, with additional support from the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago. The symposium is inspired by the more than two dozen artistic collaborations featured in the exhibition Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.