Effects of the OAC’s Expedition Reclamation viewing event

Reading Time: 2 minutes In January 2023, UVU’s Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) held a viewing of the Brave Space Project’s “Expedition Reclamation” documentary. Months later, students share how the event has impacted them.

Ina Waring-Enriquez, a film character of Expedition Reclamation, climbs a tall mountain with ropes and a harness.Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Brave Space Project’s “Expedition Reclamation,” shown at UVU in January this year, seeks to break down barriers in the outdoors for BIWOC (Black, Indigenous and Women of Color) communities in the United States. The project is particularly important for BIWOC women who face multiple layers of discrimination, including racism and sexism. 

Outdoor recreation has a long history of being inaccessible and discriminatory against BIWOC communities in the United States. For example, according to Joe Kanzangu of High Country News, many Black communities were not granted access to public lands until the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. This means that outdoor spaces were historically inaccessible to many Black individuals.

Additionally, according to Kennan Ferguson, author of “Why Does Political Science Hate American Indians?”, Indigenous history is often excluded from political science and colonial histories. This exclusion has been a contributing factor to the continued land ownership and gatekeeping of Indigenous lands. These factors contribute to the lack of representation of BIWOC communities in outdoor spaces.

Expedition Reclamation seeks to address these disparities by empowering BIWOC women to rebuild their relationships with public lands and reclaim outdoor spaces. The initiative aims to remove racial and cultural barriers to the outdoors by providing resources, education and a strong community for BIWOC women. “The Brave Space Project is a multi-racial, women-led, radically collaborative creative team seeking to decolonize outdoor culture both in front of and behind the lens,” states its website. 

“Knowing our strengths will provide the empowerment we need in this life. BIWOC women are out here overcoming generational traumas,” stated Therapist Diamond Rodgers on the Inclusive Therapists website. The strength and courage of the women involved in “Expedition Reclamation” is evidence of this statement; many of the women featured have faced discrimination and exclusion in outdoor spaces, yet they have persisted in their efforts to reclaim them. They have been unapologetic in their actions and have learned to remove barriers in predominantly White outdoor spaces. This courage is an inspiration to BIWOC women everywhere and shows that change is possible. 

Following the January viewing of the event at UVU, students had opinions to share about living in Utah, a place where minority communities are traditionally underrepresented. Hannah Rowntree, a UVU student studying communication, said, “As a transracially adopted black woman of color who grew up in Utah, I’m used to not seeing myself in representation here.” 

Additionally, Natalie Williams, a UVU student studying political science, discussed how events like “Expedition Reclamation” can have a large impact on minority communities. “The impact ‘Expedition Reclamation’ left on me was to be intentional about inviting my friends of color into the outdoor opportunities I participate in,” Williams said. 

The importance of the “Expedition Reclamation” initiative cannot be overstated. By empowering BIWOC women to reclaim outdoor spaces, the initiative is helping to break down longstanding barriers and promote equality. Additionally, by providing resources, education and a strong community, the Safe Space Project is helping create a culture of inclusivity and belonging in the outdoors. 

As more and more BIWOC women are empowered to engage in outdoor activities, the outdoors will become more representative of the wider community and more enjoyable for all.