Born in St. George, Utah, Harlan belongs to the Shivwits Band of the Southern Paiute Native American tribe. In his role as a cultural representative for the Koosharem band, he helped determine the monument’s original boundaries. After witnessing first-hand the active destruction of Native American petroglyphs, Harlan has been a steadfast advocate for the protection of his ancestral lands and historic sites, to which ranching, hunting an artifact scavenging pose irreparable threats.
Lonnie’s grand-father Jonny Davis was an early Mormon pioneer in Tropic, Utah (and the eponymous ‘White Man’ of ‘White Man’s Bench’ – a landmark in Bryce Canyon). Lonnie has grazed livestock on the Grand Staircase for nearly all of his life, and while the monument designation hasn’t impacted his ability to ranch, he fears that protection may be a signal of further restrictions in the future, thus ‘locking up’ the landscape and preventing his ability to continue his cowboy lifestyle and pass it on to his children. The recent loss of his son, Bowdie, serves as a constant reminder of his spiritual connection to the land and the generational traditions that make it so important to him.
As Megan started to leave the LDS church in high school, she began to feel a profound sense of loss: all of a sudden her entire community had vanished. Shortly thereafter, she began working for the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, and discovered a new place for herself in the world– and a new holy place. After college, Megan was hired as a backcountry ranger on the monument where she became close with Lonnie’s son, Bowdie. The reduction of the monument in 2017– coinciding with Bowdie’s death– has been difficult for Megan, as she once again finds herself questioning her sense of place within communities that don’t always share her same appreciation for public lands.