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Patria a.k.a. Homeland

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On Heritage and the Outdoors

In 1975, the daughter of two immigrants—one Mexican, one Filipino—met the son of fifth generation Spanish-Mexican tradesmen, colonial settlers of the Colorado Plateau who later migrated to the Pacific as Californios. Their union, of older West and immigrant America, joined two very different stories of what it means to be American, what it means to be “of the land,” and of what it means to live the American dream.

They raised their three daughters on a steady diet of strict schooling and high expectations, likely never envisioning that the eldest would one day throw away her well-paying corporate job and stable life to live in the dirt and chase cool rock, or live in foreign lands to chase dry snow. They probably didn’t think that their American dream—his of raising concert pianists in Los Angeles, hers of making a better life for her girls so they wouldn’t have to break their backs in the sweltering sun of a strawberry field—would look like their daughter’s, which might involve dragging around either a Yeti 450 to power her livelihood (her computer) or the gear stash into the backcountry (to power her soul). They definitely never thought her journey to uncover her origins would mean returning to the land via such a viscerally-driven path.

But my story of origin, identity, of community is intrinsically woven into the stories of the land upon which I play, connect, and grow. The story of who I am may be as unwritten as the future, but it does seek to answer a few questions. What does it mean to “go home” mean when I continuously travel? How do I define myself when I move fluidly between languages, and my heritage can be traced to three continents and three conquered peoples? What am I doing for the wild places I often call “home” to enable future generations to enjoy them? What does it mean to create community while listening to your soul?

The Book

Read the entire story in the 85 for 85 art activism fundraiser for the Wilderness Society’s lawsuit to protect Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.


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