Andrea Bowers

About the Exhibition

For over thirty years, multidisciplinary visual artist Andrea Bowers (American, b. 1965) has made art that activates. Bowers works in a variety of mediums, from video to colored pencil to installation art, and explores pressing national and international issues. Her work combines an artistic practice with activism and advocacy, speaking to deeply entrenched social and political inequities as well as the generations of activists working to create a fairer and more just world.

Born in Wilmington, Ohio, Bowers received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1992 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She built an international reputation as a chronicler of contemporary history, documenting activism as it unfolds and collecting research on the frontlines of protest through an empathetic and labor-intensive practice. Her subject matter contends with issues like immigration rights, workers’ rights, climate justice, women’s rights, and more, illustrating the shared pursuit of justice that connects these issues.

This is the first museum retrospective surveying over two decades of Bowers's practice. Highlights of the exhibition include Memorial to Arcadia Woodlands Clear-Cut (2013) and My Name Means Future (2020). These two works, both focused on issues related to environmental justice, highlight the range of mediums employed by the artist. The former is a large-scale sculpture based on her involvement with tree-sitting activists protesting the destruction of old-growth trees in California; the latter is a video that features Tokata Iron Eyes, a young Indigenous rights activist whose ancestral lands have been threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

Andrea Bowers is co-organized by Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the MCA, and Connie Butler, Chief Curator at The Hammer Museum. It is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum's fourth floor.

Partners

This exhibition includes contributions from two Chicago-based organizations, Centro Sin Fronteras and A Long Walk Home.

Centro Sin Fronteras

In 2007, Andrea Bowers documented and spent time with Elvira Arellano and Pastor Emma Lozano, two Chicago activists who worked with Centro Sin Fronteras, of a Chicago-based grassroots activist organization located in Humboldt Park. Bowers ultimately made a series of artworks based on their work with Arellano. The organization’s goal is to bring attention and justice to workers who were treated unfairly due to a lack of formal representation within the justice system.

Within the Andrea Bowers exhibition, Centro Sin Fronteras is presenting objects selected from their archive and a history of their work.

A Long Walk Home

While planning this exhibition, Andrea Bowers met with the Teen Creative Agency (TCA), the MCA’s cultural leadership program for Chicago teens. She invited them to offer a gallery space to important activists working in Chicago today. TCA chose an organization called A Long Walk Home, and to bring awareness to the issue of missing and murdered Black young women and girls. A Long Walk Home is a national, Chicago-based art organization that advocates for racial and gender equity and an end to violence against all women and girls.

Within the Andrea Bowers exhibition, A Long Walk Home is presenting The Black Girlhood Altar, a sacred site assembled by Black girls in Chicago for Black girls and young women who have gone missing or been murdered.

Playlist

A Long Walk Home curated this playlist to accompany their MCA installation of The Black Girlhood Altar on the occasion of the exhibition Andrea Bowers.

Transcripts

CANDACE FALK: When I named my dog Emma Goldman I would never have imagined that I would have devoted most of my adult life to Emma Goldman. And it was the seventies. It was a time when politics and love and free love and drugs and music and everything was merged together and it was a wonderful thing. So to name your dog Red Emma, which is what I had done, was like carrying the spirit of exuberance, ecstasy.

So I was traveling across the country from where I had taught at a feminist institute— I had passed through Chicago, University of Chicago area, and I went to visit a friend of mine who worked in a guitar shop. And when I went to visit him, my dog, Red Emma, came bounding into this shop, knocked over these music stands, and my friend John Bowen, he just said, "What a lovely dog you have, what's her name?” And I said, “Red Emma Goldman.” And he looked at me as if I had said something that was just much more profound than the name of a person, and then he said, “I think that five years ago when I was cleaning the back of the shop, I think I saw some letters of hers.” So it took him a while. He came out of the back room with an enormous box, which turned out to be a boot box full of love letters. Her lover and manager wore big, high cowboy boots. [LAUGHS] So this was his boot box from his cowboy boots.

Well I don't know how to describe to you but I certainly had read Emma Goldman's autobiography Living My life, but I had never seen letters of hers and it was very exciting. I had a little hesitance when I opened the letters, when I was just looking at these letters, and they were all addressed to “Ben L. Reitman.” And I knew that he was this very critical person in her life. That he was not only the love of her life but he devoted himself to her work. And I had this amazing feeling that I was touching a piece of paper that Emma has touched; that the handwriting in some way said something about her mood that day. But I remember there was a reference to Ben Reitman's letters in her autobiography that said that his letters were like a narcotic to her. They made her heart beat faster, but they put her brain to sleep. So I started to open the letters, or just to open along the side, and I saw her handwriting, saw the letters, and I see that they all say “Dear Hobo.” And I thought, ah, I remember that he had been an advocate of hobos. It would be like being a homeless activist now. And I also knew he was a gynecologist. [CHUCKLES] And I say that because as I started to read the letters, I thought, oh my god, these are not just Emma Goldman speaking about freedom, the right to self-expression‚ all of her work, these were very, very passionate love letters. And at first, frankly, I just felt like there is something about documents that were intended for someone else, at that moment, where you feel like in a way it's a violation. And I wasn't really sure that I wanted to keep reading, but there they were, and just holding them in my hands was really exciting. And as I started to read them, the most evident thing was how sad they were. And it didn't fit. I was very young and it really didn't fit my sense of Emma Goldman, the powerful woman, you know, being so sad. And as I was reading them, suddenly— actually my partner, he came across this letter that said, "If anyone reads these letters I would feel naked." And I suddenly felt like I had violated Emma and that she was coming out of the grave almost, saying, "Put them away!"

I was thinking to myself that how could it be that her autobiography, which all of us loved so much, because it was so passionate, it was so political, and it really was not just about her, it was about a time and a place and an excitement and in the tone of victory—like even the worst situation she overcame. And these letters did not seem that way. One letter said that, "The world would stand aghast that I, Emma Goldman, the daredevil, the one who has defied laws and convention, should have been shipwrecked as a crew on a foaming ocean." Another letter said, "I have no right to bring a message of freedom when I myself have become an abject slave to my love."

Gradually the story unfolded that here was this woman who really wanted total freedom beyond all else, who believed that individual acts of kindness and goodness and openness, and at living your principles, was as important as any other policy or anything in the world that you have to change yourself, and that she would be the great example. And what she wanted was non-possessive love. And she spoke about free love, which in many ways at that time was also love outside of the state of marriage. But it also meant to her that you would have to abandon or exorcise jealousy. That jealousy kept you in bondage and you had to trust that love would come and go and keep the doors open. And yet, as it turns out, Ben Reitman, Mr. High Boots, big cravat, big hat, cape, was, you know, what they would call a ladies' man, and he drove her crazy. She would sometimes be giving a lecture on the false fundamentals of free love and saying, "Some people think free love is promiscuity but it isn't." It's kind of almost like she believed in serial monogamy in some way. But what she was really doing was hectoring her guy, saying, "You are promiscuous, stop it!" And so she would be speaking and he would be standing at the corner selling literature, but also seeing if he could catch the eye of a woman who'd caught his fancy and then he would leave with her, arm in arm, you know‚ have a quickie, and then come back. And often in their hotel room, which was even more terrible for her. So she just felt humiliated by him. And he was incorrigible. I mean I think he might have been a sex addict or whatever, but at that time, you know, it wasn't given a name. But she was completely in love with him.

And in the spirit of coming back to the documents, she obviously said— one of the letters said that "he had open the prison gates of her womanhood and all the passion that had been caught inside for so many years." Well, he was a gynecologist. He was one of the few men who understood sexuality. She had an orgasm after, as she would say, 38 1/2 years. So she was hooked. And she just felt that this was the other side. This was the, "she was civilization and he was savage," which is a horrible way of putting it really terribly, you know, but you know what she meant. Because she felt like viscerally so connected to him and so she was willing to put up with the torment.

I suddenly noticed how many letters there were that were coded. Now the codes that I had discovered early on with her love letters were really figuring out what "my TB longs for your W," and that was "my treasure box longs for your willy," and "my joy Ms": my joy mountains, Mont Jura and Mont Blanc. So that part was much more fun.

Now, our project is almost like a who-done-it. Every single day we realize that there almost wasn’t any kind of retaliatory violence that was happening in the US at her time where she didn’t have some knowledge of it or support for the people who did it. She hid people out. She raised money for their legal trials. She believed that she was a patriot. So she felt, along with her anarchist comrades, that violence had a place in the equation and that her hope among all other hopes was that violence was not the tactic of choice, but that when she lived, she could not see a pacifism that would scare people enough to back off and change.

Among some of the great finds of the Emma Goldman Papers, we figured out who threw the Haymarket bomb. Like most people wouldn’t know that. Nobody knows that. All the books that are out now don’t know that. That’s the kind of thing that you can unravel once you’re doing a very in-depth archive where you’ve been so close to the material that you know how to read between the lines and follow the tangent. Sometimes you come up with something that’s just really quite amazing.

What the Haymarket was in 1886, there was a bombing at a labor demonstration in Chicago in which several of those killed or injured were policemen. And subsequently, in 1887, hanging of the anarchists associated with the event, some of whom were wrongfully accused, initiated a cycle of fear and a correlation between anarchism, foreigners, and violence that would take years to unravel. From piecing together the available evidence we have found, there’s a revealing reference to a German shoemaker, one of the old German comrades, George Schwab, as the bomb thrower, who died in 1924 in the poor hospital. He got away. So all those men were innocent.

This is a letter to Ben Reitman, her lover hobo, written on Mother Earth stationary in their 210 East 13th Street office. On August 15, 1909, she writes, "Beloved Hobo, my life's own one, I love you. I love you, oh so desperately. You are light, air, beauty, and glory to me. You are my precious Hobo. Dearest, do you know that creepy, slimy, treacherous thing doubt? Have you ever been seized by it? Has your soul ever suffered its sting, your brain ever experienced its horror-beating force? If you have, darling mine, then you will understand how it is." Emma was jealous and doubting the love of her life, and this was a letter to Ben.

Here, the letters had an immediate quality to them, where you really feel like you knew what her mood was. You could feel her vulnerability. You could see her anxiety, and that her public face was the face of someone who was there to give other people faith that freedom was possible. And it isn’t that she didn’t think it was possible, but she herself struggled with the same issues but tried to portray herself as someone who rose above that. However, I felt at that moment, and I guess still, very privy to what her inner soul was. And to me, to see that was a thrill. It was difficult. But it was something engaging about feeling that her issues were not so far from the rest of us. That this person who was an icon was actually a human being as well. Even now I feel like I captured the woman and the person who had the ability to transcend not only the darkness around her and the world but also her own self-doubt and depression, really, to serve something that went beyond her.

Emma Goldman is gone. Gone to join that army of men and women of the past to whom liberty was more important than life itself. She spoke out in this country against war and conscription and went to jail. She spoke out for political prisoners and was deported. She spoke out against Nazism, and the combination of Nazism and Communism, and there was hardly a place where she could live. Emma Goldman, we welcome you back to America. We want you to end your days with friends and comrades. We had hoped to welcome you back in life. You’ll live forever in the hearts of your friends. And the stories of your life will live as long as the stories are told of women and men, of courage and idealism.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

SARAH JAMES: My name is Sarah James, and I'm from Arctic Village, Alaska. Original name is Vashraii K'oo. It means "a place with high bank." I'm a chairperson to Gwich'in Steering Committee, and I'm one of the spokesperson on speaking on behalf of the Gwich'in Nation, on protecting the coastal plane of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

We formed Gwich’in Steering Committee back in 1988. We made that decision united to go against the gas and oil development because that’s the very thing that’s causing climate change is fossil fuel. This year is a 20-year anniversary fighting oil and gas development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because we’re not talking about all the oil development in the world, but we’re talking about coastal plane of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It’s the birthplace of the Porcupine River caribou. They go there. That’s the only safe and healthy place for them to have their calf as a birthplace. Our Porcupine caribou travel maybe thousands of miles every year, and, come April, they go back up there. They migrate through here and over Canada, the whole Gwich’in area.

And then another thing that’s taught among all Gwich’in Nation and all Indigenous people is that the day that anything changed in the sky—that mean rain, cloud, sun, anything—if there’s any change in the sky, that means a hard time’s going to come. But now, it’s climate change. It’s in the sky. It’s the rain. It’s the cold. It’s the air. So I think that message is pretty clear among all the Gwich’in and Indigenous people. We used to have a good four seasons—spring, summer, fall, winter—but now that’s kind of mixed up sometimes. It gets mixed up. Like this winter, we went through— well, we didn’t get snow for a while, because we need snow when it starts getting cold, because it works like insulation. It covers the land. When that don’t come, it freezes the water deeper, so it just— it freeze out the fish spawn area, and it freeze out hibernating animals. And since I can remember— you know, I’m 65 years old right now, and even in my time I see a lot of growth, vegetation.

When the village first decided to settle here— because we are nomadic before that, and then the government said the kids have to go to school. So they chose this place. We call it Vashraii K’oo. Arctic Village came later, after the Western contact. It was a popular stopover when we were nomadic people because of that creek— got fish in it. All these lakes within this valley is connected somehow or another, and when fish are on the move, they go through like creek like that down here.

And this is a place where caribou tend to pass through when they’re on their migratory route. So they chose this place, and then there’s also a tree line then so they can build their cabins. And they can do trapping, they could do— and that’s why they chose this place. So now the tree line is past Brooks Range, way up north. So that’s how much growth it is since that time. Maybe about three grandma before me, that time.

Indigenous people are always considered— I mean, I guess environmentalists is our way of life. Protect the Mother Earth; protect the earth, and protect the land. And I think we’re born with it and will probably die with it because that’s our way of life.

[CHANTING, DRUMMING]

[APPLAUSE, CHEERING]

[DOGS BARKING]

LUCI BEACH: My name is Luci Beach. I’m the executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. As executive director I do a little bit of everything, mostly administrative work and making sure things happen.

[WATER QUIETLY TRICKLING]

Not just in Arctic Village, but within the Gwich’in Nation, we’re seeing a lot of impacts. Permafrost is melting, and the lakes are draining out. You know, when it gets cold, we’ve had unusual times where there’s been icy rains in the middle of winter, which is very unusual, and the lakes and rivers not freezing up in the wintertime like they normally do, so people can get out, and hunt, and gather wood, and huge forest fires that have gone on year after year. These kind of impacts were predicted long, long ago by the elders, and the elders said that it would be because of what humans have done.

Except for the Arctic Refuge, pretty much most of the North Slope of Alaska is available to development, as well as offshore. So the fossil fuel development in Alaska is greatly contributing to climate change. And what we’re seeing with leaving few places off limits, like the Arctic Refuge, is how can we do things that aren’t going to harm the land, the air, the water, the people, the animals, and look at these things where we can make a future for the future generations, that they can have a good life that includes clean air and a climate that we haven’t completely disrupted.

The people in the north are seeing the changes firsthand. We’re seeing these changes, we’re living with them, and these changes are impacting us in a frightening way, and they really have to look at answers that make sense, that they’re just not for short-term profit for huge corporations. We’re just the beginning of the people that are feeling the impacts. This is going to happen around the world, and now is the time to really think about what we can do not to harm ourselves—ourselves meaning the people of the world.

SARAH JAMES: We govern ourselves on this land. We’re a Native village of intertribal government. We own 1.8 million acres. We didn’t go the Alaska Land Claims Settlement Act. We had this, what they called IRA, Indian Reorganization Act. Under that they got a title to a land back in 1938.

This guy, he went to college and he got his master’s degree. His name was John Fredson. He was at the mission because during the epidemic of TB, and flu, and everything like that, there was a lot of orphans, and got his master’s degree in Massachusetts. And when he came back, he told the people that we can apply for land. People don’t understand at that time. A lot of people didn’t understand it because they just don’t know the concept. But then he finally got a few people convinced, and they called a meeting in Venetie. Some of the Arctic Village people went down there, came up, and they wrote a letter to Secretary of Interior for tributary of this East Fork River down to the Yukon, to the Christian River, and they claimed that. It turned out that it was 1.8 million acres, and they applied for it, and Secretary of Interior approved it. And we got that title since then, but Alaska Land Claims Settlement Act passed in 1970, and they included us in that.

That means that rest of Alaska is under Alaska Native Land Claim Settlement Act. They call it ANCSA, and— which instead of landowner, they’re stockholder. They’re corporation, just like Western-type corporation. Yeah, we already have this option from 1938, so our people don’t understand the concept either. So we had to educate them, tell them the difference between these two. And then we took it to a vote after we educated them in 1970, and they voted—landslide vote—to stay with the IRA.

One of the first things we did to prove that we always govern ourselves, we always took care of people, is to stop the drinking alcohol because, like any other Indian Nation throughout the United States, alcohol is the problem among our people and still is. But that’s what’s really killing us, so we said we’re going to outlaw that.

Due to having a political position, we can’t receive state money or federal money, so we have to reach out to private foundations and private individuals. So we mainly reach out to— first, we reach out to grassroots organization, and right away the major environmental organization join up, but we couldn’t join them either because their interest is public interest land. Our interest is human rights because we always live here, and we’re not leaving. We’re here to stay, and we’ve always been here. So we have to educate the world in order to get the word out, and that’s very hard without money. It’s getting harder and harder with this economic crisis, but they’re still united and they’re still— it haven’t changed. The resolution haven’t changed. The unity haven’t changed. They say that’s the only way we’re going to do it, by being united.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

AMANDA CARROLL: [SPEAKING GWICH'IN]

My name’s Amanda Carroll. I’m from Circle. I work with Luci Beach with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, so I just started that job. It’s been pretty nice working for my people. Gwich’in Steering Committee helps the people spread the word about saving the Arctic Refuge. I think this is the 20th anniversary for the celebration on the Arctic Refuge, and so far it’s been pretty good.

The main reason we’re trying to save the Arctic is because the caribou and the Gwich’in people are more one. Well, first of all, pollution. It’s a really big one in the Arctic because our animals feed off of the river and the land, and we feed off our animals, and it just goes in a circle of what we eat and what we use in life.

We have been having less snow each year. More ice melted, well faster than usual, and ever since I was growing up in Circle I’ve noticed a lot of things about climate change. And we got a really bad flood this year, and the whole Yukon River was high. I heard there was of a few villages that got wiped out, and there was a fundraiser going on this past weekend for them in Fairbanks at the tribal hall.

Well, I feel that everybody should get together and have one big powwow or something, and talk about what’s going on in the Arctic because not only it affects us here in the Arctic or in the interior of Alaska, it affects everybody in the whole world.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

[BIRDS CALLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: So John was like, "Meet us at this on-ramp at 2 or 2:30." And I was scared to death. And you guys were all in the cars. I had never met Julia. I just felt like a huge mess.

So we— I don’t know where we’re at. We drive to Arcadia. We pull into this driveway. And this neighbor, Cam, comes out, and brings us in, and he shows us the Google Maps, and shows us exactly the path we have to take and where the trees are and where the security guards are parked, because the neighbors have plotted out where all the security guards sit.

So we organize our gear as much as we can. We figure out who’s going to carry what. Because we had to carry water—

JULIA JAYE: Yep, water.

ANDREA BOWERS: —enough water. We took water and food for four or five days.

JULIA JAYE: We had these boards because you— when you’re tree sitting, and you’re really prepared, you have a board that you tie up into the tree so you can sit on that board. One was— the one that Travis and I ended up using was, I think, two by six. And how big was yours?

ANDREA BOWERS: Slightly bigger.

We had to climb up hills. We had to jump over a little ravine.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: So it was just so much weight. And it was— we couldn’t use any flashlights.

JULIA JAYE: Uh-uh.

ANDREA BOWERS: We couldn’t use any lights because they would see you.

JULIA JAYE: Yep.

ANDREA BOWERS: I have no idea.

JULIA JAYE: Half an hour?

ANDREA BOWERS: An hour?

JULIA JAYE: No.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, 45 minutes.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: So by the time each group tried to even get in the tree, the sun was coming up.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: So I was pretty sure that this was never going to work. I was pretty sure before we’d get in the tree that we were going to get busted. We would be caught.

And, in fact, security was driving around. And I was just ducking because John was already in the tree. And Travis probably got in the tree too, because they just climbed up it. They climbed it like you would just walk— pull yourself up a tree.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: And I was at the bottom, and you probably were too, tying stuff to ropes and pulling it up the tree, which took a really long time and a lot of strength.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: And so the sun's up, and I'm like, "I have to get up now." And I'm under a lot of stress because I know that I have to get up immediately. And I'm really panicking and I'm doing it, but I've never experienced such physical exhaustion.

And when I finally got up there, within two minutes, we were sighted.

Once I got in the tree and the sun came up, I had this moment where I stopped for just a second and got out of my head and looked around and thought, "My god, this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen." I mean, it was truly, truly beautiful. I couldn't believe what then happened.

NEWS ANCHOR 1: There’s a protest in Arcadia this morning to save some trees.

NEWS ANCHOR 2: LA County officials say they need to clear 11 acres of land for a flood control project. Eyewitness News reporter John Gregory joins us live in the Oak Grove area of Arcadia with a look at exactly what's going on. John.

JOHN GREGORY: Now, we were told there are four environmentalists inside this debris basin, actually camped out in several of these trees, and I believe we do have a view from AIR7 where you can see where they’re located. They are vowing to stay there as long as they have to, to protect this area. Meanwhile, the county has already started work on removing some of these trees. And the only thing clear right now is this is going to be a long and bitter fight.

Despite protesters camped in trees, the work is underway. The county has brought in heavy equipment to remove close to 200 trees on 11 acres, including more than 170 oaks, which environmentalists are vowing to save.

GLENN OWENS: They’re willing to stay there until hell freezes over. They’re trying to take down a lot of trees, and it’s unnecessary. They don’t have to. There’s enough room for the sediment on another pile.

DAVID CZAMANSKE: This is not just one or two trees here and there, it’s what we call an oak woodland habitat, okay? It’s very unique, very rare here.

JOHN GREGORY: The county wants to clear the trees to make room for sediment from the nearby Santa Anita Dam. Still, protesters insist there has to be another way. And some are willing to sit in these trees until someone finds it.

DAVID CZAMANSKE: We believe there are several other alternatives that they could do, without delay of cost, without delay of time, that are quite reasonable.

JOHN GREGORY: Now, back live here on the ground, and you can see the environmentalists have their signs out, the barriers are up; so really, the battle lines being drawn here in this normally quiet Arcadia neighborhood. We're live in Arcadia. John Gregory, ABC 7, Eyewitness News.

[MACHINERY BEEPING, LEAVES AND EQUIPMENT RUSTLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: Can you see anything, John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No, there's not [INAUDIBLE]. I mean, they're using the [INAUDIBLE].

Uh, we're in oak trees that would be part of the [INAUDIBLE] right across from the [INAUDIBLE].

[MACHINERY BEEPING]

You can see people [INAUDIBLE]. That's my take on it. Just because it's close to the road but— so if people want to rush the gate and run in here and start hiding in trees, now is a good time.

[MACHINERY BEEPING AND RUMBLING]

[JOHN CLEARS HIS THROAT]

[MACHINERY BEEPING]

JULIA JAYE: So the first trees that I saw coming down at that point, I just saw the tops, I think they were sycamores, just falling in this thud. And it was then that I started screaming to try and get their attention.

[EXCAVATOR WHIRRING AND BEEPING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

And then everything stopped. A few minutes later, a man walked up to our tree and I was relieved that, okay, now we’ve moved into a new realm. Now they know we’re here.

ANDREA BOWERS: Do you guys know what time it is, can you tell me?

SHERIFF: It’s time to come down.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, besides that, is it—

SHERIFF: 5:01.

ANDREA BOWERS: 5:01? Thanks.

[EXCAVATOR WHIRRING AND RUMBLING]

So John, tell me what’s going on.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Well, here’s one of these things that just kind of came out of the blue. Hearing about these woodlands and meeting the people who are fighting to save it and—

ANDREA BOWERS: So we’re in Arcadia, right?

JOHN QUIGLEY: We’re Arcadia. We’re in a place called the Santa Anita Wash. It’s the last alluvial oak woodlands in the San Gabriel Valley, just coming off the mountains.

And all told there’s about 26 acres, and today they’re going to cut somewhere between 11 and 13, and that’s what they’re scheduled to do. So we mobilized at the last minute to see if we could help. And so here we are and they’re starting to cut, and it’s brutal. It’s just brutal.

[WOOD CRUNCHING, EXCAVATOR WHIRRING AND BEEPING]

ANDREA BOWERS: There were always, what, 5 to 10 sheriffs underneath the tree at all times.

JULIA JAYE: Circling.

ANDREA BOWERS: Circling.

JULIA JAYE: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: There were times when they disappeared, but not for very long. Some people down at city hall who were in charge were called. First of all, they were trying to get them out of the tree, but I think there was also a very quick meeting that was held to decide what to do with us.

JULIA JAYE: Yep.

ANDREA BOWERS: The decision must have come down that was simply to keep cutting, rip that forest out no matter what. Do it as much as possible, and do it to the point where you scare them. I think the goal was to scare us out of the trees.

JULIA JAYE: Absolutely. They didn’t hide that at all actually. There wasn’t a point, throughout the whole experience, where my safety was assured by anybody on the ground. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They were getting as close as they possibly could, trying to intimidate us very violently.

[EXCAVATOR WHIRRING AND RATTLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: So the next one is the tree right here next to us, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right. I think if they start coming after that tree, it’s going to be a nightmare.

ANDREA BOWERS: I think so, too. This is actually getting scary. I mean, that tree—

[EXCAVATOR WHIRRING LOUDLY]

I mean it could—

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hey!

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hey!

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hey, that tree can fall on us. You better stop him. Come on!

[EXCAVATOR BEEPING AND WHIRRING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hi.

[EXCAVATOR BEEPING AND WHIRRING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

Alright, yeah. Well, I’ll just— Hey.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hey, that’s going to hit us.

JOHN QUIGLEY: The tree right next to us is going to fall on us right now. What's that? Oh, no, they got this big bulldozer, crane thing that is destroying this beautiful oak tree right next to us, maybe 40, 50 feet away. If it falls in this direction, we could die. The limbs are interconnected with the tree that we're in [INAUDIBLE].

It’s still incredible. It’s so incredible. This area is just such a beautiful area.

[OVERPOWERING SOUND OF METAL CLANKING, LEAVES RUSTLING]

. . . destroying the tree. So I'm [INAUDIBLE].

[MACHINERY BEEPING, METAL CLANKING]

What’s that?

[METAL CLANKING]

We had some talks. [INAUDIBLE]

Wow.

ANDREA BOWERS: Wow.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Wow. They are cutting so close to us. It's like really— this guy is out of control. I mean they're just knocking over trees. One landed not 10 feet [INAUDIBLE]. We talked to them first thing this morning, but since then it's [INAUDIBLE]. We haven't really had a conversation.

Yeah, they asked us if we were going to come down, and we said no. We wanted to stay if they allowed it. And it was all very polite and friendly. And they were just— [INAUDIBLE]. Whoa.

[INAUDIBLE OVER METAL CLANKING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

ANDREA BOWERS: This is scary as hell. This is scary.

JOHN QUIGLEY: [INAUDIBLE OVER MACHINERY RUMBLING, BRANCHES CRUNCHING] . . . plenty of alternatives.

ANDREA BOWERS: Oh my god.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Oh, yeah, I don't know. [INAUDIBLE].

ANDREA BOWERS: John, they’re going for that tree right next to us.

JOHN QUIGLEY: They're literally [INAUDIBLE] branches [INAUDIBLE].

[MACHINERY WHIRRING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

ANDREA BOWERS: Oh my god.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Wow.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m so scared. Hey, I’m really scared, you guys. I’m really scared. I’m really afraid. I can’t get down.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I mean there's like 20 [INAUDIBLE].

ANDREA BOWERS: Do you understand how dangerous this is?

[MACHINERY BEEPING, METAL CLANKING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, so I was thinking, no one— because we all agree with the sentiment that even if we move, the question is what the city will do with this land. Because this solution does not— There are far better solutions to accomplish this and still save this area and all the habitat that's here. And so it's just a question of [INAUDIBLE OVER WOOD CRUNCHING] and [INAUDIBLE] ladies and gentlemen and stump. We talked about alternative number five. So that [INAUDIBLE].

I don't know if you have his number. But he could tell you about alternative five and when I heard about it, I said this is the far better alternative [INAUDIBLE] especially since it's so rare, this habitat in San Gabriel Valley.

So that's— I just want to make that very clear. We recognize that there's a new need to [INAUDIBLE] disagree with [INAUDIBLE], but there are other ways to— Sorry, we got a [INAUDIBLE].

Yeah, I will. And I'm sorry, what was your name again? Miriam [INAUDIBLE]. Thanks. Thanks, Miriam. They definitely need to back off. Otherwise they're seriously going to endanger our lives. [INAUDIBLE] Okay, thanks, Miriam.

[METAL CLANKING LOUDLY]

ANDREA BOWERS: I had no idea—

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey, dude. [INAUDIBLE]

[METAL CLANKING, MACHINERY WHIRRING, LOUDLY]

Dude.

[WOOD CRACKING, METAL CLANKING LOUDLY]

Hey, listen gentleman, you got an out-of-control crane operator who’s literally knocking down trees that are connected to our tree. I don’t know who you can— Yeah, I mean, out of control, out of control.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m scared.

JOHN QUIGLEY: [INAUDIBLE] Looks like he's [INAUDIBLE]. I mean it's serious, serious [INAUDIBLE]. I don't know who you can tell, but I'm just letting you know.

Oh, yeah. I understand. [INAUDIBLE OVER EXCAVATOR WHIRRING] . . . there still would be sycamores, but that [INAUDIBLE] this place [INAUDIBLE]. It's just sad.

[EXCAVATOR WHIRRING]

Okay. You might [INAUDIBLE].

[ENGINE RUMBLES AND THEN IDLES]

ANDREA BOWERS: John, what do we do?

JOHN QUIGLEY: [INAUDIBLE]

[EXCAVATOR CLANKING AND WHIRRING]

WORKER: Take these down and take these down. So make sure we push him that way. As soon as we get these down [INAUDIBLE] we'll have [INAUDIBLE]. Now we got to walk—

SHERIFF: Hey, John. We need you to come down now. We understand the cause, but we need you to come on down because we are using some heavy equipment to move these trees. Okay? Just like urban farm, we’re going to do the same thing. All right?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I know you’re doing your job.

SHERIFF: All right. And you got any questions for us?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Andrea, do you have any questions?

ANDREA BOWERS: Don’t hurt me.

SHERIFF: No, nobody is going to hurt you.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What’s that?

SHERIFF: You guys even saved the treestand from urban farms.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

SHERIFF: All right.

ANDREA BOWERS: [LAUGHS]

JOHN QUIGLEY: That’s wood man. We love trees.

SHERIFF: Hey, no problem, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

SHERIFF: Okay. We’ll talk some more during this thing, okay?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay.

ANDREA BOWERS: I thought two trees out. I thought these trees are so close to us, they’ll stop within two trees. Like it won’t be the tree next to us and then won’t do the one after that. They’ll stop, and they’ll create a little grove around us. But before I knew it, they were ripping out the trees that were 10 feet away from us. The trees right next to us.

[MACHINERY BEEPING, WOOD CRUNCHING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: [INAUDIBLE OVER MACHINERY] No. No.

ANDREA BOWERS: And really don’t do that. Please?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No. Dude, this is going to go this way.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING AND BEEPING]

[WOOD CRUNCHING, MACHINERY RUMBLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: John, do you know what’s going on with Travis and Julia?

JOHN QUIGLEY: [INAUDIBLE]

[MACHINERY BEEPING AND RATTLING]

MAN ON RADIO: [INAUDIBLE OVER STATIC]

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Your conduct is in violation of Penal Code Section 602, trespassing. I command you in the name of the people of the State of California to disperse and come down the tree and leave the property. If you do not, you shall be arrested for violation of Penal Code Section 602, trespassing. You going to come down the tree?

JULIA JAYE: So is that any different than what’s already been the situation?

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Well, I’m giving you the official warning and giving you every opportunity to give yourself up and come down.

JULIA JAYE: And then what happens after this?

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Well, [LAUGHS] I said you get arrested. If you refuse, then the additional charge of—excuse me—interfering with my performance and my duties becomes 148 of the Penal Code. You're also subject to that arrest. So again, I'm going to ask you to come on down.

All right, ask them individually?

TRAVIS: Yeah, it’s too bad the county is going to walk on the people. Because you’re part of the people, too.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Hey, well, is that a refusal?

TRAVIS: You’ve got to stand up for the people. You guys are not standing up for the people.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: I just need to know, are you refusing to come down?

TRAVIS: I don’t understand your questions.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Okay. Julia, are you refusing to come down?

JULIA JAYE: I plead the Fifth.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Okay. All right. We’ve given them ample opportunity to come down. All right.

OFFICER: And we are off tape. It is January 12 at 13:48 hours.

TRAVIS: I didn’t understand anything that you said, sorry.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: I am Sergeant Michael Martinez, and I represent the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Your conduct is in violation of Penal Code Section 602, trespassing. I command you in the name of the people of the State of California to come down from the tree and leave the property. And if you do not, you shall be arrested for violation of 602 of the Penal Code.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So you’re saying if we come down you won’t arrest us?

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Well, what I will do is detain you and unless somebody wants to make a private person’s arrest, I will not be arresting you. But then you have to come down the tree now. You got that?

JOHN QUIGLEY: All right. We’re going to conference.

ANDREA BOWERS: Can we have a minute to talk?

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Sure.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Here’s the thing. I’m not sure that I trust him.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And we just got a call from one of the neighbors saying that they want to help us if we make it to the night. So I don’t think it’s in me to just go down.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, that’s fine.

JOHN QUIGLEY: But you can go if you want. For me— No, seriously, it’s your choice. I’m not saying you would, I’m just saying—

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m not going to get out now.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What’s that?

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m not going to get out now. What do I do if they arrest me? What happens to me?

JOHN QUIGLEY: They’ll arrest you, and then you’ll have to go to court and do all kinds things. You’ll go to jail right now.

ANDREA BOWERS: Fuck.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So I think what I’m going to say is I’m going to say, look, will they spare this tree? Which, of course, he’s going to say no.

ANDREA BOWERS: Right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And then I'll say, "Okay, you guys do what you need to do."

ANDREA BOWERS: How much money is this going to cost me?

JOHN QUIGLEY: What’s that?

ANDREA BOWERS: How much money is this going to cost me?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I have no idea.

ANDREA BOWERS: How much did it cost you last time?

JOHN QUIGLEY: We had a pro bono lawyer.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, but what about the fees?

JOHN QUIGLEY: What’s that?

ANDREA BOWERS: What did they charge you?

JOHN QUIGLEY: $200.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay. All right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I just think we’ve come all this way and then just walk out?

ANDREA BOWERS: Right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I can’t do that. It’s not in my blood.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay. Okay.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: John, Andrea? Guys, coming down?

JOHN QUIGLEY: We thank you for your offer but we can’t really come out unless— after going through this, we would like these trees saved, and I know that you’re not in a position to negotiate that.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Okay. I just want to let you know that by failing to come down from the tree, you are delaying me from my lawful duties, and therefore you are also in violation of 148 Penal Code section, which is basically obstructing with a peace officer during performance of their duties, and you are subject to that additional charge, okay? So once again, I’ll ask you, please come down from the tree.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Well, I appreciate the way you asked. It was very nicely. I just— you guys could think of it as a field exercise.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Okay, sir. I’ll accept that as your refusal. Thank you. Ma’am, I assume you are also— is that yes?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

MICHAEL MARTINEZ: Okay, thank you.

[MACHINERY BEEPING AND RUMBLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: They’re shooing away the people with the cameras.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING, MUFFLED VOICES SPEAKING]

[EXCAVATOR RUMBLING, LEAVES RUSTLING]

This is crazy. I’m like— this is, like— they ripped everything out. This is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever done. And then there’s nowhere to sleep on this platform. I mean, I’m like totally wired in. I’m laying down right now because my back hurts. There’s cops over there. And then across the way are the others tree sitters. So I don’t know how they’re doing. Because we’re running out of batteries, of course, on the phones.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING AND BEEPING]

[WOOD CRUNCHING, MACHINERY RUMBLING]

[METAL CLANKING, MACHINERY WHIRRING]

ANDREA BOWERS: I knew they were coming in for us because the bulldozers dug roads to our trees. So I knew— because the ground was so natural and crooked and there were giant rocks with cacti, and so these bulldozers— so I remember yelling down, "So I guess you're now digging paths to us, you're digging roads." And one guy looked up and he said, "Yep."

[EXCAVATOR SQUEAKING AND RUMBLING]

John they’re making a path for the fire truck.

[WOOD CRUNCHING, EXCAVATOR RUMBLING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: So Andrea, your first real tree save.

ANDREA BOWERS: It was pretty hardcore in a way, so far.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey, how it goes?

ANDREA BOWERS: It was really emotional actually. It was really stressful and worrying about getting out here, and the physical part of really quickly in the dark trying to get up, but then, by the light of day the bulldozers started. And we’re in this beautiful tree, and I couldn’t believe how close the bulldozers got. I mean, they tore down the trees right next to us.

And, I mean, I thought it was really irresponsible. I thought it was crazy actually that they did that. But then, to spend the whole rest of the day sitting up here watching them tear out one beautiful tree, really old tree, after another. I mean, it seems just so— immoral is not even the right word. It’s like I— it’s just devastating for me. It’s really devastating. So, I guess this is what it means to bear witness, huh?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right. Yeah. I mean, that’s— very quickly I got into this is about bearing witness.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah. That’s all you can do, really.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I mean, at this point, because it was so clear that they were hell-bent on doing this. And in some of the crazy stuff they did, coming so close to us, trying to intimidate us, and stuff like that.

ANDREA BOWERS: I noticed there are broken branches from the other trees hanging in this tree.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. Yeah, no. That was—

ANDREA BOWERS: That is crazy.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, that’s— so that’s, you know. But—

ANDREA BOWERS: I was shocked by how quickly they can take out a forest or something before us.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, especially in that way. You know, there’s a new sound that will haunt me.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: The sound of a chainsaw used to haunt me. And literally—

ANDREA BOWERS: This is worse, maybe.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I don’t know. It’s going to sit with me. In a way it is, I mean, because now I’ve witnessed it. I’ve witnessed trees cut by chainsaws, but I’ve never seen a whole forest devastated like this and then they just pick the tree up and throw it like it’s a little rag doll. This majestic oak that had stood for 100 years, two minutes before, and now it’s just being tossed and—

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s a splinter or a broken toothpick is what it looks like from here. It’s crazy. You know how huge that tree is.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, right.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING]

[BIRD CHIRPS OVER MACHINERY]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Is that— birds.

[BIRD CHIRPING SLOWLY FADES]

[MACHINERY RUMBLING]

ANDREA BOWERS: So that was in the late afternoon, and the sun was starting to go down. And the weirdest thing happened. There were no trees left, and all of a sudden animals started to come into the tree we were in because it was the only tree left. We were suddenly swarmed by bats encircling us, all different kinds of birds.

There were actually rats running into the tree. I mean, it was craziness because it was the last of the little bit of this ecosystem— bugs, moths. It was devastating. It was depressing because you realized how many other animals’ habitats and insects’ habitats had been destroyed in an afternoon.

[MUFFLING SPEAKING, MACHINERY IDLING]

[WHOOPING]

ANDREA BOWERS: What’s happening, John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: They are taking them out.

ANDREA BOWERS: They got a cherry picker, and they’re taking them out?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. And I think they brought in climbers.

JULIA JAYE: A search-and-rescue man came up to the tree and informed us that we were not spending the night in the tree. And we could either come down peacefully or they would extract us. And it was at that point that Travis and I said, "We need to have a little meeting amongst ourselves, can you give us a few minutes?"

And we talked about what we wanted to do at that point. And it was already at a point where all the trees besides two or three of them were totally torn down. And we had made whatever statement we were going to make. And because it was important throughout the whole process for it to be a nonviolent action, direct action, we did come down peacefully.

[MACHINERY IDLING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: This is pretty sad.

ANDREA BOWERS: Looks like they got somebody down.

WORKER: You good right there?

TRAVIS: No.

WORKER: Yeah, hold on.

WOMAN: Woo!

[WHOOPING]

ANDREA BOWERS: Woo hoo! [LAUGHS] I see Travis.

MAN: [HOOTING]

OFFICER: [INAUDIBLE]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yay.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hey.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hello.

MAN: Okay, it’s January 12, 2011. We are at Arcadia with the people that won’t come out of the trees. It is now 19:15 hours and ESD is getting ready to go up there and take the last two people down.

GURSKY: John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yes.

GURSKY: It's [INAUDIBLE] Gursky.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Hey.

GURSKY: Hey, we’re obviously going to come up and get you out, wanted to know if you’re going to come down voluntarily without resistance.

JOHN QUIGLEY: I’m going to be peaceful, and I’ll be safe.

GURSKY: Peaceful and safe without or with locking devices? John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yes.

GURSKY: Come on, we’ve been straight with each other.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What’s that?

GURSKY: With or without locking devices?

JOHN QUIGLEY: The process will be safe.

GURSKY: The process will be safe?

JOHN QUIGLEY: The process will be safe.

GURSKY: And you’ll cooperate, correct? John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yes.

GURSKY: And you’ll cooperate?

JOHN QUIGLEY: As I said, I’m here to protect this tree, and I’m a peaceful person.

GURSKY: I understand, John. Andrea? Andrea?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yes, I’ll cooperate.

GURSKY: A little louder, please. The same for you, you’re going to come down peacefully?

ANDREA BOWERS: I will be peaceful.

GURSKY: Okay, great. And you’ll do so without using any locking devices?

ANDREA BOWERS: I’ll be safe and peaceful.

GURSKY: Okay, thank you. All right. Secure yourselves while we come up.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

GURSKY: Okay. By the advisement both indicate that they would come down peacefully. They’re not indicating whether they’re using locking devices. Go ahead and shine on them one more time.

Okay, sorry about the bright light, we just got to get this done.

Okay, Brian.

[ENGINE REVVING, MACHINERY BEEPING]

[MACHINERY IDLING]

MAN: Yeah.

[MACHINERY IDLING]

[LEAVES CRUNCHING UNDER FOOT]

[MACHINERY IDLING]

GURSKY: Hi, ma’am.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hi.

GURSKY: Proctor, a little bit higher. Now ma’am, I need your camera, please.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s locked onto me.

GURSKY: What’s that?

ANDREA BOWERS: I don’t know that I can get it off me.

GURSKY: Well, we are going to have to get it off of you, okay?

ANDREA BOWERS: How about I just leave it hanging on me?

GURSKY: Oh, hang on you?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, it’s hanging on me. Can I do that?

GURSKY: Can you turn it off for me, please?

OFFICER: Turn off—

ANDREA BOWERS: Huh?

OFFICER: Turn off—

GURSKY: Turn it off for me, please.

[MACHINERY IDLING, MUFFLED VOICE OVER RADIO]

All right, Tucker.

TUCKER: On the way down?

GURSKY: Yeah, down please.

TUCKER: Coming down. Clear?

[ENGINE STARTING UP]

[MACHINE RUMBLING]

[CHATTER]

GURSKY: That way we can get back up to the—

[CHATTER]

OFFICER: We got it. We’ll make our way up to the pickup trucks.

GURSKY: Thanks, buddy.

WORKER: You good?

GURSKY: Almost. Hang on one sec.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING]

WORKER: How’s that?

GURSKY: Yeah, that’s good.

[MACHINERY IDLING, LEAVES RUSTLING]

Rope.

Hey, Tucker.

TUCKER: Sir.

GURSKY: All right. We’re ready to come down to get this gear repositioned for the higher up one.

TUCKER: Coming down.

GURSKY: Thank you.

[ENGINE STARTING UP]

[MACHINERY RUMBLING, LEAVES RUSTLING]

WORKER: Hey, Jess, how do you guys— do you feel stable?

MAN: Yes, yeah.

WORKER: What do you want, up and forward?

MAN: Huh?

WORKER: Up and forward 10?

MAN: Up and forward, like 7 or 8 feet.

WORKER: Copy.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING]

How’s that?

GURSKY: You guys be careful when you [INAUDIBLE].

MAN: Yes, sir.

[MUFFLED SPEAKING]

MAN: Hold on.

WORKER: Hold on, Tucker.

WORKER 2: Let me [INAUDIBLE] the light when you pick them up?

MAN: Yeah.

[MUFFLED SPEAKING]

MAN: All right, we’re good.

WORKER: Clear.

[MACHINERY RUMBLING]

MAN ON RADIO: [INAUDIBLE OVER STATIC]

MAN: Yeah, [INAUDIBLE].

GURSKY: All right, guys, [INAUDIBLE].

ANDREA BOWERS: We were charged with trespassing—

JULIA JAYE: —trespassing and obstructing an officer because we didn’t come down. And for that, $10,000 bail.

LESLIE MILLER: Noted tree sitter John Quigley and three other protesters were perched high in the trees as a show to protect the Arcadia woodlands. They said they were prepared for the long haul but tonight in a turn of events, they are back on the ground and not the way they were hoping.

John Quigley, seen here in the dark blue jacket, and three other tree sitters are handcuffed as they are driven away by sheriff’s deputies. The environmental activists were talked down without incident by Special Enforcement Negotiators around eight o’clock tonight.

JOE FENNELL: We took a forklift up and we assisted them in coming down. They didn’t say anything other than they gave some type of signals, and the voices that we couldn’t understand, but they gave each other whatever signals they do give. And they all joined together and came down.

LESLIE MILLER: Tonight, dozens of Quigley’s supporters, including actress Daryl Hannah, turned out for a candlelight vigil in honor of the tree sitters and the trees.

KIM CLYMER-KELLEY: It was carnage. I mean, what they did to those trees, they went in and just bulldozed them. I mean, totally tore them to pieces.

LESLIE MILLER: John Quigley and the three other tree sitters are tonight being booked for trespassing and delaying a peace officer. Now, Quigley is noted for once holding a protest perched in a tree for 71 days. Reporting live in Arcadia tonight, Leslie Miller, ABC 7, Eyewitness News.

[BIRDS CHIRPING AND CAWING, INSECTS BUZZING]

WOMAN 1: May 21, 1968. Los Angeles, California. My daughter is mentally ill and is not able to care for a child. Please send me a list of doctors in Tijuana that take care of abortions. Thank you.

WOMAN 2: March 6, 1968. Fresno, California. When I called about an abortion, the girl I spoke with said that you only had lists of doctors outside of this country. When I inquired about any in California, she asked if I was willing to take the legal responsibilities. If that is the problem, yes, I would. Prior to speaking with her, however, I understood that the main problem of obtaining the names of any California doctors was the law forbidding sending a list of that sort through the mail.

If there is any way of getting a doctor closer than Mexico—the only country of those mentioned to me, which is at all feasible. I would be willing to accept the legal responsibilities and come up to San Francisco, so you won’t need to send anything through the mail. I am nine weeks along, according to my doctor, and need to take care of this very quickly.

Could you also give an estimate of cost? If you prefer, and you can help me contact a physician in California, you can call me person-to-person collect. If you can still only give me the name of a Mexican doctor, please use the enclosed envelope as soon as possible. Thank you very much.

WOMAN 3: May 21, 1968. Los Angeles, California. I received your name and address from my reverend in Santa Monica. I’ve seen him recently to discuss my problem in detail and have concluded that an abortion is the only answer right now. I am married, but my husband has just been called for jungle training in Korea for a period of active duty for 18 months. I will be self-supporting, so a child would cause too many problems at this time.

I want to be sure this is a pretty hygienic group of doctors. I’ve heard so much about the terrible conditions of Mexico. But I feel that even that I’ve heard a few bad things, this is the only answer. If you could, I wish you’d rush this to me because my husband is leaving June 4, and it must be done before then.

I would also like to know if any of these doctors would do this on Sunday because I work all week and it would be the only day besides Saturday that I can make the trip down there. Please give me the information, and also how to get in contact with them. I can’t tell you how important this is. So please, hurry.

Also, I wish for you to mail the package to my office. But please do not put your return address on the envelope, as my employer is a devout Catholic and I think it may cause trouble.

MAN 1: June 22, 1968. A young lady that I’ve been dating has become pregnant. While we enjoy each other’s company, neither of us wishes to be forced into marriage. I don’t want her to have to go through a pregnancy, even if she gets all proper medical care. I feel a pregnancy is for those who intend having children with their husbands.

The girl’s about two and a half months pregnant, so there are no pills that will help. Where can we get an abortion? Although we’d prefer something local, I’d come north with her in order to prove our sincerity. Please help.

WOMAN 4: I’m 18 years old, single, and three months pregnant by a married man. I need the name of a doctor, for I’m in a desperate situation and I want an abortion. I have $200 in the bank and can get $100 more if I tried. Please help me because if you don’t, I’m going to have to kill myself.

I read your article in the Free Press of LA, and you are my last resort. I don't want my family to know, so I'm sending a self-addressed envelope. Please help. If you don't, no one else can.

WOMAN 5: Walla Walla, Washington. I’m a married woman, with four children, and I’ve just discovered that I am pregnant again. My husband and I agreed that having this child would tax our resources—financial, physical, and emotional—to the point of no return. Of course, that’s understating our reason for seeking an abortion. But I think you will agree that they are sound reasons.

The problem, of course, is that abortion is illegal, and I have no desire to attempt to do anything myself. So in my futile search in the local area for a duly licensed physician with a liberal outlook on such matters, I ran into someone who suggested that I write to you for help. I don’t know if there is anything of a positive nature that you can do for a person in my position, but I would be very grateful for any suggestions or information you can give me that may be of help. Thank you.

WOMAN 6: July 24, 1968. Seattle, Washington. It was brought to my attention that this association can give assistance to young women needing knowledge about the availability of obtaining an abortion. I have personally found myself in need of such information and greatly appreciate any help that you might provide. Due to circumstances and my strong belief against forced marriage, I am unable to bear the child and give it a name. I am a college graduate and established in the retailing business, and face loss of my job should this information get out and I attempt to bear this child out of wedlock. I am also aware of the increasing difficulty of placing children for adoption.

I cannot rescind my actions, but must save all those close to me from the consequences of my actions, and have concluded that an abortion is the only answer. My doctor has informed me that for my own safety and health, I must obtain an abortion at the earliest possible time and can wait no longer than a month. I need contacts very badly.

As for my own area, Seattle, I am at a loss and fear falling into the hands of a quack. Enclosed is a self-addressed, stamped envelope, also, a contribution to your association and its great work. I appreciate any and all help you might provide.

WOMAN 7: Niles, Illinois. Your name was given to me by the committee in Chicago that is fighting to legalize abortion in Illinois. I will be 40 in June, have two children—a son, 14 1/2, who had rheumatic fever at age eight and was hospitalized for four months; a daughter, 17, who had a bowel resection with removal of 24 inches of small intestine at 14. Both illnesses, as you may know, are likely to recur.

At age 12, I had identical surgery after a four-year illness. Now, both my daughter and I are plagued with constant and chronic illness. On July 8, 1968, I had my gallbladder removed after five years of intermittent attacks. We have lived in Niles only two years, and our modest home is mortgaged to the maximum. And we are in debt with remodeling bills and normal living wants.

My husband has just changed jobs, and my having to stop working would be certain financial hardship or bankruptcy. My husband and I love each other very much, and we dearly love and wanted the children we have. This unwanted pregnancy has created deep depression and anxiety for both of us, and hysterical sobbing on my part. Our entire family relationship has altered already in a matter of a few days.

I was told you would refer names and phone numbers of someone in this area who will perform an abortion. We could also manage to leave the state if necessary. My last menstrual period was approximately January 6. I’ve missed one period, and should be due for another about March 10. I’ve seen several doctors, and all have refused to even try to help me.

Writing this, I feel ashamed and desperate, yet hopeful. My husband is in full agreement for me to do whatever has to be done.

MAN 2: Los Angeles, California. February 29, 1968. I need your help very badly. Please get in touch with me as soon as you can. You do not know how much I will appreciate your advice.

My name is Guillermo. If you call me up, be sure not to mention this to anyone else at my home. Only to me. I will be waiting for your answer. Monday I will be home all day long—Monday, March 4. If you call before or after, leave me a message, please. Thank you very much.

WOMAN 8: Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am another unfortunate woman who’s come to face the hypocrisy and injustice of a country that leads in technology and sadly fails in humanism. I seek your assistance for the first time, but this will not be the first time that I’ve needed help. Believe me, for it was a matter of ignorance.

As you say, nothing is foolproof and some people have all the luck. Ironically, I stood by a good friend only a month ago, encouraging her with the experience that I had had, and I commend you, for your information dealt with everything possible, and that is good.

There are so many doubts. I’m three weeks pregnant. You’ve given hope and I shall try, in some way, to strengthen the cause.

WOMAN 9: February 23, 1968. Los Angeles, California. Would you please post me your most current list of doctors for legal abortions as soon as possible? I understand that the list also includes necessary information, such as fees, locations of offices, et cetera. I believe abortion should be legalized, and I am active in promoting that movement.

In the meantime, your list is invaluable to me right now, as I will not take the risks of an illegal abortion. I will respond to you after my trip to Mexico concerning the success of the venture. I was referred to you through a wonderful woman at the Free Clinic in Los Angeles.

WOMAN 10: September 25, 1968. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Your organization has been recommended to me by a local physician who suggests that you might be of assistance. I’ve been widowed for six years and have a nine-year-old son. To have an illegitimate child now, I feel, would be unfair to my son. Granted, I should have considered this five weeks ago, but I didn’t, and there’s no point in recrimination at this late date.

I’m nearly five weeks pregnant and understand that you can supply me with the names of doctors in San Juan who will perform a legal, hospitalized operation. Naturally, I am interested in having the full details: cost, doctors’ names and addresses, how to contact them, et cetera.

Can you also please tell me both the earliest and the latest this operation can be safely undertaken? In view of my responsibility to my son, I would not pursue the matter further if I thought there were any danger to my life. I’d rather have the child than jeopardize my life, leaving my son alone at this age. Statistics prove how many butchers perform operations, and I want your reassurance that your organization will direct me to approved doctors and sterilized hospital conditions.

If all my doctor tells me of your group is accurate, I can only add that, in my opinion, you are saving lives, not taking them. My entire mental attitude changed and brightened when I realized that I could save my son this embarrassment and not endanger my life or reputation. How proud you must be of your work. If only more women knew about you.

MAN 3: March 29, 1968. Hollywood, California. My wife has been taking pills for several years. Two months ago, she was given a new series of the pills and was told that only the color was different. It turns out that the pills in this series contain only half a milligram, while her previous pills contain two and a half milligrams. She’s taken all of the pills as directed, but she has now missed her period for two months, and she is showing symptoms of pregnancy.

We will know very soon if she is, and we cannot possibly afford to have a child at this time. It would ruin us. I am deeply disturbed by the possibility that the anxiety of a pregnancy from my wife at this time might cause a severe emotional breakdown. She has a morbid fear of death, and she is deeply distressed that complications might set in with this pregnancy. We have discussed the possibility of abortion and have concluded that we will have to consider it.

Please send us all information available. We will gladly reimburse you if there is a charge. We are particularly concerned with pre-abortion and post-abortion procedures, and want to know what dangers are involved. We will sincerely appreciate your immediate reply, as she is pregnant, and this will be at least her eighth week.

WOMAN 11: August 9, 1968. Chicago, Illinois. I’ve taken your address from the files of the Planned Parenthood Association here. We have a sad case through our church responsibilities, in which a 17-year-old girl was raped and has become pregnant—five weeks now. Sadder still is the present attitude of Illinois law. Any information you can send us will be appreciated.

We would like to have any leads on someone in our area, if possible. Also, I understand you may have some literature on inducing a miscarriage. Don’t know whether you can send that through the mail. If so, please do. Would like names here or in Canada. Last, Mexico.

WOMAN 12: May 16, 1968. Corvallis, Oregon. I am in the necessity of writing you to ask for advice about the following problem. I am a foreign, single graduate student over 21 years old at Oregon State University and I’m facing the problem of being pregnant for about one and a half months.

Due to a circumstance, to begin with, the fact that it is not possible that I marry the man who would be the father of the baby, and other strong reasons, I cannot want to have the baby, and have decided that an abortion is the only way of avoiding this problem, to become even more unhappy. I have gone to doctor here. But he told me that abortion was not legalized, and that he did not know about the possibility of doing it.

Now, I have been told of your association. So I’m asking advice as to how I can have an abortion done soon. I would be very grateful of hearing from you as soon as possible. You can call me collect.

WOMAN 13: February 27, 1968. Seattle, Washington. I have, by my own ignorance, brought myself into a very unfortunate and unwanted pregnancy. I’m fully aware of the responsibilities when I wish to obtain an abortion. To me, this is no easy way out, but it is the way which will bring this unhappiness to less people. Once I have reached this decision, I wish there was a decent and proper way I could go about it, and I shall be very grateful to receive your help.

WOMAN 14: July 17, 1968. Palo Alto, California. I heard your talk on the radio this last Sunday, and need your help. Could you send me the list that gives the addresses of the doctors in Mexico? All that my boyfriend and I can get together is $150. Will they possibly do it for this amount? What were the addresses of those clinics where they gave a pregnancy test free?

I know I must not be far along. About four weeks is all. How long will the abortion take? My boyfriend is afraid I’ll be hurt by a doctor. Didn’t you say it was relatively safe? Do you need your birth certificate to cross the border? I hope you can help me.

My parents would be heartbroken. You see, I have a little brother who just turned five, who is dying of a brain tumor. All they need to just about kill them would be to find out about me. They’ve been looking forward for my going to college, and I don’t want to disappoint them. Please help me, and I’ll help you. Thank you for your time.

Please don’t put a return address on your envelope when you answer me. Thank you.

MAN 4: Phoenix, Arizona. Several months ago I telephoned you to offer, quietly, my services as a gynecologist. I’m deeply concerned with the problems of today, but I cannot serve, except discreetly. If I’m found out, I have a great deal to lose. So I’m available until then, or until our laws change. I charge very little. It is a minor surgery at most. I’m still available, but must remain. Yours truly.

WOMAN 15: March 6, 1968. Oak Park, Michigan. I’m in desperate need of help. I’m a married woman, 38 years old, and a mother of three boys, ranging in age from 14 years old to the youngest who was just 3 years old in February. Yesterday, I was informed by my doctor that I’m apparently seven weeks pregnant, and I feel despaired and lost over the impending thought of undergoing another pregnancy and birth.

After much thought and discussion with my husband, we both emphatically agree to have this pregnancy terminated as soon as possible. And not knowing whom to consult in this matter, we discussed it with our doctor, who in turn referred us to your organization, which he says he learned about on a local TV show, the Lou Gordon show.

We are in desperate need of an organization or person in our area, Detroit, Michigan, which is in a position to help us in having this pregnancy terminated as soon as possible. We urgently request your help in this matter, and we’ll be happy and grateful to cooperate with your organization in any way possible. If any further information is required by you or your organization, you may call us collect any time, and we will be happy to answer or do anything you require. We are hopefully awaiting a favorable answer from you in the very near future.

WOMAN 16: A friend gave me your name and address in hopes that you might be able to help me or give me some information on getting an abortion. I’m 10 weeks along now and haven’t much time. So it’s urgent that I know as soon as possible. Due to financial problems, because I work, I’d be unable to go out of town, and hope that you might know of someone in San Diego or the general area to help me.

There is a doctor here that I have been to already who said, legitimately, he could help me if I were to start spotting or bleeding. So all I need would be someone to start me, and the rest could be done in the hospital, where my medical insurance would cover the charges of having a miscarriage.

I would appreciate it, anything that you can do for me. And please do not post-return this address or letter, as I live with my family, and they know nothing about it.

WOMAN 17: January 29, 1968. I've heard about you in the past through my reading of The Realist and the Free Press. I have a four-month baby girl who was born out of wedlock and went through a great deal of emotional anguish about the possibility of giving up the baby for adoption. It happens that the baby was born four weeks prematurely, and right at the time when the father was visiting Los Angeles while on leave from the armed forces.

I imagined he was moved and shocked when he saw the helpless child lying in the incubator and clinging to life. I think maybe out of guilt he influenced me not to give her up for adoption. I guess this is what I secretly wished he would do. He has been helping me for the child support.

He came home in another leave for Christmas 1967, and I committed the stupidity of becoming involved with him. I hope he had some love for me, but what a mistake. Now I find myself pregnant again and considering the only way out: to have an abortion. I went to the doctor who examined me, and the pregnancy test is positive.

MAN 5: Sierra Madre, California. My wife became pregnant, despite our precautions, about four weeks ago. We don’t want this baby because we already have three small children, and four would be too many for us to care for properly. My wife is in good health and our doctor refuses to perform an abortion.

We were told you could inform us on how to obtain an abortion in Mexico. We would appreciate this information or, of course, any other information that might help us.

WOMAN 18: Goleta, California. Some months ago, I saw and heard you on television. I was completely in full accord with you and all your views regarding legalized abortion. Such courage is rare, to speak out as you do.

Now I find myself in the unhappy position of an unwanted pregnancy. We have two children and cannot afford a third. My husband and I are not the happiest married couple on earth, and this is the last thing that is needed in this family. I have just started my second daughter in school, and I’m now employed for the first time in eight and a half years of marriage. I love my job and don’t want to give it up. And I will have to if my pregnancy cannot be discontinued.

A very good friend gave me this San Francisco address to contact you. I hope you can help me locate a doctor who will perform the abortion for me. I appreciate your earliest possible reply.

WOMAN 19: May 23, 1969. Garden Grove, California. I’ve been informed that your association might be able to help people that are in drastic trouble. I find myself pregnant, I’m unwed, and have two children, ages 13 and 14, by my ex-husband.

Since I am the sole support of my family, I am obliged to work for a living, and this pregnancy would have dire consequences on my well-being and the well-being of my two children. If there is some help available, I am for speedy action, since I am, at this writing, two and a half weeks overdue.

WOMAN 20: February 8, 1968. British Columbia, Canada. I find it very difficult to know where to start. I am six weeks pregnant, and I’m just about out of my mind. I’m 43 years of age, a happily married woman with three teenage children. I have a part-time job, which has given me a new lease on life. And now this.

I am desperate. I heard your program with Jack Webster, and as fear gripped my heart even then, I jotted your address down. You are my last hope. Could you please phone me collect, or write me and advise me of a contact I might turn to here on the coast, or someone who could advise me on how to help myself out of this dreadful problem?

I’m so desperate because of dreading what is in store for me, and also, my husband is in a denial state about it. We have no one to turn to. Please, I beg of you to help me. Please don’t turn your back on me, as I can’t go through with this. Please.

MAN 6: January 21, 1969. I may find myself in a more serious predicament within the next few weeks and need your assistance. The girl I’m going steady with, who’s 19, suspects she’s pregnant. If she is, things could be very bad, to say the least. Although we intend to marry eventually, marriage now and out of wedlock would be absolutely out of the question, due to the extreme emotional, social, and educational problems that would arise.

I decided to waste no time in taking steps now to avert a catastrophe, in the event our fears are realized. An abortion by a medical doctor would be the only workable solution. Not knowing where to begin looking, I just happened to notice your article in this month's Playboy magazine. Upon reading it, I was somewhat relieved to find that there are people both concerned and kind enough to help those in this desperate situation.

I decided to write to you immediately, in the hope that you could help us, as we would have no one else to turn to. Because a very serious crisis could develop, your prompt reply is urgently requested. Please send all the information you can on abortions and the possibility of obtaining one in Mexico. Any assistance you can give would be deeply and greatly appreciated.

WOMAN 21: Salem, Oregon. I know you probably don’t have time to answer all of your mail personally, but there are a few things I have to ask you. Perhaps they’ll be answered by the information you give me. But anyway, I live in LA, but I go to school up here. When I came back from Christmas break, I found I had a real problem. The thing is, I can’t get away from school until March 8, at which time I’ll be two months pregnant. Is that too late?

Also, how much will it cost? And can you send me the name of a trusted physician in Oregon? Or should I go to LA right afterwards and see one there? Finally, could you please send information in a plain envelope? I live in a sorority house and we haven’t got private mailboxes. I sure would appreciate it if you could help me. I’ve always thought it was a good thing what you’re doing, but now I really appreciate it.

WOMAN 22: March 15, 1968. Hood River, Oregon. Please rush, by special delivery airmail, your packet of information regarding abortion sources. My daughter, age 21, is eight weeks pregnant. Date of last menstruation period was December 20. Cycle varied from 28 to 35 days. The pregnancy test was positive.

She is a junior in college. She feels this the best answer to this problem, as she wishes to continue her education. She does not want to get married. I have let her make her own decision. Thank you for helping. I will let you know about our experience in Mexico in the near future.

MAN 7: February 29, 1968. Claremont, California. I’m afraid that I find myself in need of your services. The doctor has fairly conclusively proved that my girlfriend is pregnant. I’m a senior in college, and she is a sophomore. We’re planning to be married when she completes college, but find that, financially and emotionally, neither of us are yet prepared for giving a child the attention and love he deserves.

We are fully aware that going through the experience of an abortion may well endanger our relationship. But we are both convinced that marriage and parenthood, before we felt ourselves able to adequately prepare for these experiences, would be equally as disastrous.

Although, of course, it would be preferable to obtain the services of a physician in the Los Angeles area, much preferable, we understand that your sources are only in Mexico, and so we will try to equip ourselves for such a trip, in as much as it is regrettably the only course of action available to us.

We would very dearly appreciate whatever information you can give us. Thank you.

WOMAN 23: September 4, 1968. Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am hoping that you can and will help me. Please bear with me while I explain the situation. First, I am pregnant and would like an abortion. I cannot find access to such a service in Minneapolis. Secondly, my mother was, for some time, institutionalized for schizophrenia. Although released, she is still on drugs, and I fear a setback in the event that she should have to find out about my situation. She has had a very truly terrible life, and I, quite frankly, would just as soon burn in hell for eternity than make her suffer anymore. She’s very isolated, and I am very important to her. Thirdly, I feel totally defeated by the situation. Neither I nor the fellow involved are ready for marriage, and I feel incapable of going through with this pregnancy. So much for the details.

Could you please tell me where I could get an abortion and approximately how much it would cost? If need be, I can supply you with more information and come to San Francisco, if necessary. Are there any possibilities in the Midwest? The matter is urgent, of course, and I would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible. If you can and will comply with my request, you will help prevent what will be, in my estimation, a tragic situation. Thank you very much.

MAN 8: April 1, 1968. McMinnville, Oregon. Last weekend I drove down to Santa Barbara and saw Dr. Lee at the clinic there with a pregnant girl. She is two and a half months along now, and I had hoped to get an abortion for her. He said that in this present position, a D&C would be difficult, and that I should contact you.

We drove back up to Palo Alto and phoned you Saturday evening and Sunday, but you were not home. So we drove back up to Oregon and school. The net result of the 2,000-mile trip was your name.

Paula and I are both students with no real emotional interest in each other, and the pregnancy is a result of intercourse that surprised both of us. Conception took place January 24. We are desperate not to have this unwanted child. There’s no chance of marriage, only an unwanted child. And I believe she might keep the baby if she ever has it, ruining her ability to finish school, and creating a most unfortunate situation for both of them.

Paula and I are putting ourselves through school. The drive down to Santa Barbara and back cost us $75, and we still are nowhere. We’ve borrowed money from friends and relatives and can pay not too much. Could you please help us? I can drive down again this weekend if necessary.

If you can help, please send word right away, and a time, maybe, that I can phone you. Thank you for any help you may give us.

NARRATOR: In 1960, Pat Maginnis, then a young college student, kickstarted the abortion rights movement in San Jose and the Bay Area, by handing out petitions, surveys, and leaflets on street corners and in classrooms. Four years later, in 1964, Pat enlisted Rowena Gurner, and then, in 1965, Lana Phelan, in the nascent movement, forming the trio that became known as the Army of Three.

From 1964 to 1973, enduring multiple arrests, threats, and exhaustion, they fought a round-the-clock campaign for women’s health rights and legal abortions. The Army of Three, first as the Society for Humane Abortions, and later as ARAL, Association to Repeal Abortion Laws, the precursor of today’s NARAL, spent a decade giving speeches, printing leaflets, openly breaking the law by teaching classes on safe abortion techniques, and publishing referral lists of doctors in Japan and Mexico.

The two surviving members of the Army of Three, Phelan and Maginnis, have saved hundreds of letters written by young women, mothers, sisters, husbands, boyfriends, and fathers desperate to find abortions for themselves or loved ones. These letters were all written prior to 1973, before the passage of Roe versus Wade, the US Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion.

Wounded Knee

My name is Tokata Iron Eyes. I’m 16 years old. I’m from the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. I currently live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

My mother is Oglala Lakota and my dad is Hunkpapa. And he’s originally from Standing Rock and she’s from here in Pine Ridge. Standing Rock is where the Hunkpapas were allocated to, along with some of the Dakota, and so throughout this region of South Dakota and going up in towards North Dakota is where my family’s from.

We are at the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. On December 29, 1890, 300-plus men, women, and children were massacred here and I come from the survivors of that massacre.

We had ancestors, we had ancestors who were resisting and those ancestors are now buried in a mass grave right behind us. It’s actually a really crazy story because we wouldn’t have survived as a family if it wasn’t for one baby. And no one really knows how he survived the massacre because every other person who was with him, they died. Somehow he ended up being adopted into another family and they took care of him until he was older and that’s my great-great grandfather now.

The massacre happened because, well, the people who were killed here were the last of Sitting Bull's people. And he was one of the greatest chiefs that the Lakota people ever had, and he was also one of the strongest resistors of the American imposition upon our lands. So, in a way, [it was] revenge for his leadership and because of the battle at Greasy Grass, where Custer was killed.

This place was really the center of resistance for our people in the 1970s, in this revolutionary time of being able to finally stand up for ourselves and provide for ourselves again as a people. Because for so long we’d been entirely dependent on the government and we’d been beaten down as a culture and as a nation because they took away our right to pray like we’ve been taught and our right to really be Lakota. So this place marks a time of change. Change in the ways of history in the 1800s, and change in this way of strength in the 1970s.

I consider the work that I do to protect the land a part of who I am as an Indigenous person and I would say a part of my spirituality. It’s just that I was taught to think of the earth as a relative and so inherently it brings upon questioning of the ways in which we treat the earth now, which I guess could be considered activism in the world that we live in.

Growing up here has been one of the hardest things about who I am and about my life, because here it’s a daily question of why we have to live like this. And if you know a lot about the history, like my family does, and if you’re growing up learning that every day about the massacres and about the struggles that your ancestors went through, it really is a hardship to have to look back at those traumas every day. And because the rest of the world doesn’t recognize those things yet, it’s a really lonesome struggle.

As Indigenous people, poverty is different because we were never introduced to a capitalist system the way that we were expected to integrate into it. So the ways in which our communities function, the cycles in which we used to have that were indigenous to us, those are gone, or they’re broken. And so they’re not working the ways that they’re supposed to because we’re trying to implement them in a system that doesn’t want it. It shows up in the ways that we treat each other now within our community and the way that we can’t seem to lift each other up as much as we should be able to.

I think of myself as a feminist simply by being an Indigenous woman in the world that I live in today, because I live in a time where my aunties and sisters go missing, and are murdered around me. And so as a person who loves those people, it would not make sense for me not to be inherently protective of them and want them to be safe and want myself to be safe and I think that that’s how I’m feminist. I’ve also strived to make sure that the earth is safe and I recognize her as a woman or as a feminine power and so if I want to be able to say that I’m a feminist, I’m also inherently fighting for her rights.

When extractive industries, like the fossil fuel industry, come in to Indigenous communities, they’re bringing with them a lot of danger, and it has created a real opportunity for violence, because these men who are brought here oftentimes end up hurting our women. They end up being raped, or killed, or kidnapped, or sold. My aunt actually, Olivia Lone Bear, she went missing and they didn’t find her body until months later, and for those months, getting to know a woman that I hadn’t ever really known personally as a headline in the news, and as somebody who was just gone, I think that was really hard for me. And even now we don’t know what happened to her. So I still see her in my mind as a headline.

So you grow up knowing to be cautious about those things. And you grow up knowing that there are people out there who want to hurt you, in the first place, and I think those are things that are damaging for young women.

My hopes for the future would one day be able to live here and bring hopefully my future children with me back to this place and be able to look on it not as a place of sadness and hardship but as a place of joy and prosperity, because I know that the people who died for this land and for me to be able to be here would want that also.

Pe’ Sla

We are at the sacred site of Pe' Sla, which in Lakota means "bald spot," because in the middle of these hills that are covered in trees, except for this one spot that has very few trees on it, and you can see the way that the earth looks and the way that it would look if we could see beneath the trees that cover the hills.

[LAUGHS]

Pe’ Sla is in the middle of the Black Hills in South Dakota. The Black Hills are considered the heart of the world to the Lakota people. They’re one of our most sacred sites in the entire world and we’ve been coming here for generations.

To me, sacred means that somebody has prayed or felt a connection to an object, a person, a place, or a thing. So if I feel really strongly about the way that the wind moves the grass, that’s sacred to me. Or something as simple as the way that the sun feeds everything that it touches. I think that sacred just means that where life is present it needs to be protected.

The buffalo are one of the most sacred animals to us. Throughout millennia we’ve used them as a life source for almost everything that we needed and so, as important as water or as the sun, the buffalo were also right there with them. And they were really a prominent part of our culture and still are, but when colonization and genocide came to this land, one of the first things that they did was wipe out the population of the buffalo, so that we would starve and that we would lose that part of our culture. And so to be able to bring the buffalo back to this land and have them graze here and prosper here, without any form of violence being threatened upon them, is something that’s really symbolic and also a real sign of resilience amongst Indigenous peoples.

When I was about eight years old, my mother and father made a petition to fundraise money to buy this land back from the people who had owned it. This is like the physical manifestation of the dreams of a nine year old and her family brought to life.

I think it’s also a really good portrayal of the ways in which that Indigenous peoples have been forced to participate in capitalism, because even to be able to regain this site that had been in our lives and in our culture for so long, we had to buy it back, which is in itself an insult to the way that we work as a people and the way that we believe in community and in each other. Because that shows this side of thinking where we believe that we can possess our own land when in fact it’s a life force of its own that cannot be possessed.

A lot of times we talk about wanting to make change and really wanting to make these dreams that we all have for each other come true and then still at the end of the day we end up only curating solutions that involve us continuously participating in capitalism, which we know doesn’t work.

I also think that this place— to be able to call this like a safe haven away from the way that the world works outside of it has also been really influential in my life. Just to be able to come here and see that there’s not buildings taking up space where they’re not needed, and that it’s not congested with people all the time, is really beautiful for me.

[WOOD FLUTE PLAYING]

I think that humor played a really monumental role in me as a child and being able to look at the things around me as characters, rather than objects, because my dad would always look at things and give them names or personality traits, and he still does it today with like our cats and with objects around the house that would be considered inanimate. When you’re a kid that’s the type of stuff that you pay attention to and so it helps when you want to teach somebody really simplistically about the ways that we can look at the things around us as our relatives.

My mom is a clinical director at the Indian Health Service on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. And my dad is an attorney and public speaker for Indigenous issues. My parents, from a really young age, made sure that I knew my own history really well, the history of Indigenous peoples in the US, because they knew that I wasn’t going to learn anything sufficient in school. And so they made sure that I knew who I was as an Indigenous person and what that meant.

Within regards to my relationship with the earth and with nature, they always made sure that I was aware that everything had a life force within it. Everything has its own autonomy and its own free will, and so to be able to humanize the things around me as my relatives, rather than something that I could own or take advantage of, was something that was really monumental in becoming the activist that I am now, because a lot of my work involves bringing awareness to that relationship—the relationship that human beings have with the earth—this relationship that is supposed to be nourishing and beautiful and loving. And right now it’s a relationship that’s very abusive and it’s something that needs to be fixed.

I didn’t recognize the work that my dad was doing. I think him being in my life and being a leader in that regard. Being in the home and telling me how important I was as a woman and the type of leadership that I carried inherently with that, was always monumental in me, feeling like I had the right to speak. And so I think a lot of times whether or not you’re doing something big, in the outside world, the things that you’re telling to your kids about themselves and the way that you model your compassion as an adult is what shapes young leaders. It’s not how much notoriety you get from the people who don’t know you, it’s what kind of lessons you’re going to teach the people who do.

A couple days ago my friend was talking about how she didn’t know whether or not to consider herself a feminist because of the way that feminism looks to her. And I just talked to her about the way that people see feminism isn’t how it has to be for her, or how it has to be for anyone individually. I think that we all as women stand for different things because we are so different from each other and that’s a part of feminism, is being seen as individuals and being seen as different from each other. And I just started talking to her about the way that I’m a feminist. And the way that, when I’m fighting for myself, and when I’m fighting for my own rights and equality, I’m fighting in the same way for the earth as a woman. So I’m fighting for her rights and her equality and the things that she needs as well as the things that I need. And so there’s many different paths to being a feminist, just like there’s many different paths to finding out who you are. It’s all about finding your space in this way of being.

I would consider myself to be an Indigenous feminist because I think that the way that people view feminism now isn’t representative of how I feel about being a woman and about what I need in regards to rights and equality. The most widespread and well-known form of feminism is white feminism. I think that white feminism comes from a place of wanting to prosper in a capitalistic system, in a system that we’ve already seen cooperate so well with patriarchy, in regards to giving men more opportunities to be in leadership and to be able to continue the system. And so when white feminism wants to progress in that way to be able to be in those same leadership positions, it’s really progress made in the wrong direction, because it’s not inclusive of the women who have struggled within the lower classes for millennia, because those women are the ones who need this sort of representation the most.

As an Indigenous person who has been living in a way that capitalism has been imposed upon my community for hundreds of years, I see that it’s still not working and it’s still not providing a way for me to learn about who I am as an Indigenous person and be able to really physically enact those teachings and that wisdom. Because the two systems of being, this way of community versus this way of greed and selfishness, can’t connect to each other in a way that isn’t harmful or violent.

This conflict between this world that we want to live in as Indigenous people and the one that we’ve been trying to grow in economically for hundreds of years, they don’t mesh together. And so to be able to build a new system, that encompasses the modern parts of this world and these ancient important teachings of our ancestors, that’s the kind of system that we need as humanity to be able to begin to really prosper as people with emotions, with feelings, and with dreams.

[WOODEN FLUTE PLAYS]

Black Elk Peak, Black Hills

[LAUGHS]

[SPEAKING LAKOTA]

I said, "Hello everyone, I greet you as a relative with a warm heart and a handshake. My name is Tokata Iron Eyes. My Lakota name is Waniyetu win. My name means 'future' in the Lakota language. I'm from Standing Rock and I live in Pine Ridge."

We are at Black Elk’s Peak, or Hinhan Kaga, in the Black Hills in South Dakota. One of the great Lakota medicine men, our leaders, Black Elk, he came here in one of his visions of the future. Specifically his vision of the next seven generations. The vision also told of a tree of life and for me that tree has always represented Lakota people. And in his vision this tree of life was dying. And it’s almost always, in all of the translation of his vision, it never tells what happens to the tree. It talks about it blooming and dying again, like when leaves fall off of trees in the wintertime. And so I think it’s really symbolic of the fact that we have a choice. We have the power to make sure that our tree stays alive. And our tree is dying right now. And so, for me, this place has always symbolized hope. And it’s always symbolized choice, and the fact that every day, every single choice we make affects this tree. And the tree can symbolize us as individuals and it can symbolize the world around us. But we get to decide whether or not we live or die.

The very first person to come here, after we had initially signed the treaty that gave us the Black Hills, was General George Custer. And Custer came here illegally and found gold, which is what started this huge escapade of greed to the West. And now we see the long-lasting effects of that trespass.

This park is called Custer Park. And for a lot of people he symbolizes a great leader and he symbolizes the American Dream. For me, I grew up thinking of him as a monster. I grew up knowing that those who came here illegally and those who came to hurt us and to hurt the land, I knew that their intentions still resided here, even when I was really young. I used to have nightmares that Custer, or someone who would have looked like him, in old clothes and long curly hair, I used to have dreams that he was eating me. He would cut into pieces of me, while I was still awake, and I could still feel everything, and he would eat parts of me right in front of me, while I watched. And I told my dad about the dreams that I used to have when I was young about that, because it wasn’t just one, a one-time dream, they were recurring dreams of this happening to me.

And I told my dad about it, for the first time a couple of years ago, and he told me that he thinks that my dreams represented— that they represented colonization in a way. Because what colonization and genocide do is they come into a community and they take out the parts that are valuable to them. And they leave behind the rest. And they kill it in the process. The things that fit into their system of greed and their system of hurt, those are the things they keep. And the things that make us Indigenous, the things that make us people, those are the things that they’ll crush. Those are the things that they’ll eat. Those are the things that they’ll take away from us.

For me it’s always been a really tough situation to have to pay to visit the Black Hills and to visit these sacred sites, because it’s really a symbol of how in-depth colonization has rooted itself in our homelands. Because now people don’t even know the true stories of the places that are still here and the places that still hold such sacredness. They know it only as a tourist stop or they only know it as a commodified version of other places around the world that don’t hold as much power. Whereas for me this is a place where my ancestors lived and prayed and died. And for me it’s really a haunting feeling to come here and not see that recognized by the people who have the audacity to come here.

In the Black Hills, in general, they’ve created this image of this place in their minds that says that they are allowed to take things from the earth, such as uranium and oil and gold and coal, and they’ve turned this into a place where they come only to take. When in reality this place has been here far longer than any of us have been alive and it deserves respect. It deserves the utmost respect that we can give it. And the fact that we see this as a place where we can come to hang out, and spend our time, and spend our breaks, rather than make this a place for research and education on Indigenous peoples and the people who were here before we decided to set up our amusement parks. It’s also a dangerous time for the Indigenous peoples who come here to pray or who come here to visit because we’re greeted with racism and we’re greeted with discrimination often. So I would say either don’t come at all or come with respect.

(reading from journal)

Sometimes when I close my eyes, or even when I just think about it, I realize I don’t think that I’m okay. It’s because the things that I am forced to bear witness to are not okay.

As a child in America, I have watched discrimination in action before I knew how to say that word. I’ve been called racial slurs before I even knew what they meant. And I’ve seen corruption in my schools and in my city.

It’s when my teachers leave for better-paying jobs, and when our relatives leave because they can no longer bear to live here. I guess you could say it’s because we don’t live here. We survive.

The dreams our ancestors had of a better future for our children rests in the palm of our hands, and yet we cannot seem to grasp it.

I wonder if anyone else finds it hard to breathe the air here. Can they too feel the endless sense of longing and the mistaken sense of hope. The air here is thick with it. And still, I wonder why I cannot breathe.

I watch as my peers are shot in our schools. Killed literally while learning how to live. I watch as their families are being torn apart. And I watch as we are massacred in the streets for the color of our skin.

I watch as our mothers are assaulted on the trip home from work. And I watch as my sisters are raped by old men who have probably been assaulted themselves. I watch as my aunties go missing year after year.

They are taking away my everything. How much longer until there is nothing left?

I wish I could close my eyes and see flowers, and sunlight, and rainbows. I close my eyes and I am so struck by my own memories that I could choke.

I feel like I live with a constant lump in my throat. I’m always on the verge of tears, even at my happiest.

The things I’ve seen, the things I know, the things I remember, they are still happening. And that is why I cannot breathe.

I don’t want to watch anymore.

I will not watch anymore.

I am going to help my people. Even if it means I will never breathe easy.

Sheep Mountain, Badlands

[WIND QUIETLY BLOWING]

Today we are at the Badlands in South Dakota, also known as Makho Sica.

We see a lot of commonalities between Indigenous issues and in issues of the oppressed. And so it’s created this sort of bond of trauma, throughout young people I think especially, because we’re all worrying about the same things now. So to be able to build these relationships throughout the nation, relationships that are meant to help rebuild this world and make sure that we’re creating a future that provides what it needs to for everybody and not just those at the forefront of the issue.

I think that being an ally to Indigenous people is always going to be complicated, because we’ve seen the relationship of mistrust and greed that has been formed between these two entities: the entity of Indigenous people and the way of life that we carry, and of this capitalistic people and their way of greed. And these two haven’t mixed and the only relationship that’s ever been touched has been violent. And so allyship is always going to be complicated, because now we’ve seen this turn from violence and harassment to white saviorship in our communities, where it’s only the people who have assaulted us in the past can come and reconcile or help in any way. And it’s not working because there is no such thing as reconciliation without action first and that hasn’t been done. So when we look at Indigenous communities and the only people who are providing assistance in any way are those who have committed the genocide, how can we work on building a relationship that’s healthy and not dependent?

[TOKATA SIGHS]

I’m currently attending Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation. And for the past year it’s been kind of a really personal struggle for me to have to go there because it’s an old boarding school. And since I was really little my parents have been telling me stories of what their grandparents and what my grandparents had to go through.

This was a stage in which they would come into our communities and steal our children. They kidnapped children right out of homes. Law enforcement would come and knock on your door and if you weren’t ready to hide they would take away your kids right there. Usually they took them when they were around four or five. And the kids wouldn’t come back until they were around 20.

If you spoke your Indigenous language or sang your Indigenous songs you would be beaten, or hurt, or worse. So the purpose of the schools was to basically beat the identity of an Indigenous person out of them in order to assimilate them into white society. And now we see it in the ways that our language has been struggling to be kept alive and we’ve seen it in the way that there’s been such a decrease in those who have and are able to carry our ancestral knowledge and songs and prayers.

For me, something that’s always been a huge hope of mine is to be able to sing my Indigenous songs and speak my language with my grandma before she passes away, because I know that for her and her stories of boarding school, and that it really still is an open wound within her. And so to be able to show her that that doesn’t have to be a source of hurt for her anymore is something that’s really important to me. And also, for me it’s just really powerful to see that there’s been this surge of Indigenous children learning Lakota as their first language. And so it shows in some of our schools on the reservation now. There are children who are fluent. And so the hope is that one day I’ll be able to teach my kids their own language, first.

[SINGS IN LAKOTA]

Cheyenne River

[WATER QUIETLY TRICKLING]

Today we are at the Cheyenne River, which is a tributary of the Missouri River.

The Missouri River is the river where the Standing Rock movement was started. The Missouri River is the river that I grew up going to. Ever since I was really small my family’s always gone there. And the Missouri River is the river that feeds the entire tribe. I grew up on that river, and the river in a way made me who I am, because the movement was started because of it.

In 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline was proposed to be built underneath the Missouri River, which is the tribe’s only water source. As a direct response to that threat, we took up resistance in a really physical form, in the form of an encampment on the land in order to protect that land, and the water next to it, from the fossil fuel industry.

The encampments lasted for around eight months total and the entire movement was started three years ago and continues on today.

Something that was really meaningful to me about being there was the fact that the people who made up those camps came from everywhere. And a lot of them were Native peoples who have had conflicts before and decided to come together to stand for one message, which was to protect the water for the future generations. And then, once the Native peoples united for one message, I think it opened up this circle of awareness to the outside world, so that they felt welcome again to stand strong in that sort of message, because right now we’re living in a world where even something as simple as protecting the water and the land is considered taboo or wrong when in the face of money. And so I think it really opened up this huge opportunity for people to give gratitude to the land and own it as something that is important to them.

During the Standing Rock movement, my main role as a young person was advocacy, because my parents didn’t want me to get hurt physically on the frontlines but I knew that I still couldn’t sit still and do nothing. So I decided that my role, the thing that I could do and partake in, was being able to spread the message. If you want a movement to grow, awareness is always key. And for me that was something that was accessible to me because I didn’t have the option to be scared of speaking up anymore.

When the movement first started, I was 12 years old, and the way that I got started was by participating in a video that was sending out a call to action, for people all over the globe to recognize what was happening. Not even to come to Standing Rock physically, but just to be aware and spread the word about the situation there, about the fact that a pipeline was proposed to be built underneath it and what that would mean for the people who were already living there. And from that first video thousands upon thousands of people started coming and flooding into the land, to be there with us in a physical form of resistance.

My mom was the clinical director at the hospital at the time, and so being at the protest put her at risk every day of losing her job. But she decided that her job was lower on the list of priorities when it came to protecting the land and the water for her children. So every day she was out there on the frontlines with the rest of our people. And one day, when the trucks with all the equipment began to start building a road in a path for them to continuously use throughout their work, she decided that she was going to step in front of them. And when she did that, she got arrested. And I think her being able to do that as a woman in a position of power on the reservation sent this sort of ripple effect through the people, to where this issue became serious now, because people were willing to lay their livelihoods on the ground for the water and for the future generations. And for me that is what really gave me a sense of purpose to know that I had to do something. It was no longer a choice after she got arrested because it meant too much. When somebody offers to sacrifice that much for you, there’s a sort of balance that needs to be kept. Just like in the ways of which the earth gives us everything that we need, there’s a balance that needs to be respected, and we’re not doing our part.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

After my mom was arrested I knew that it was a very real possibility that my dad could be arrested also. And I had seen people being hurt. There was a woman who got her arm blown off; there are several people who went blind because of the forceful tactics that law enforcement was using to stop and oppose us. And it was really scary for a time, and especially when my dad was arrested. He knew right off the bat that they were going to try to make an example out of him because he was a leader in the camps at the time. And I knew that there was a very real possibility that they were going to send him to prison and I wasn’t going to get to see him. He wasn’t going to get to be my father in that time.

At the height of the movement there was 15,000 people there, all standing for the same thing and all standing there to protect the water. So it’s the situation where you’re seeing the world in which we could be living in—this world of unity, and love, and passion, and gratitude for one another. And you’re also seeing a very real conflict and very real violence that that sort of disruption to the system creates, because people are willing to die to keep things the way that they are, even though the way that things are right now is killing us.

I mean I think Standing Rock made me grow up a lot more than I probably should have, because when you’re in these situations of conflict and when you’re in this situation of fighting constantly, you don’t get to have a childhood, because you have your purpose already. Children are meant to wait and grow and figure out what they want to do and who they want to be. But if you’re fighting for something as simplistic as water and safety, those things turn you into an adult, because everybody should have those already and you’re not supposed to be worrying about it when you’re a child.

Standing Rock also gave me every single person that I have around me in my life right now. It’s given me purpose and it’s giving me a path to follow in a world that seems so crazy, because even in this crazy time of climate crisis, I know that there’s an opportunity for real unity around the entire globe to unite against this. Even in the worst of times there’s going to be a possibility for something better. And it’s going to be real and all it takes is for us to do our part.

[WATER QUIETLY TRICKLING, BIRDS CHIRPING]

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

[FOOTSTEPS, LABORED BREATHING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: The tree sit is a holding action to stall things while political— and to also rally public support, so that when you do go into your next round of court, or sometimes it’s like a city, or some kind of planning board that’s going to have a vote, they get a sense of a public outcry. That people really want these trees to be saved, or this forest to be saved. And so the tree sit helps to bring that awareness and elicit that public will.

The main thing about choosing a tree, in addition to that it’s alive and that it’s climbable and that it’s defendable, and what I mean by that is, the higher up you can go, there are less ways for them to get you out. The lower you are they can bring machines in—

ANDREA BOWERS: The easier it is.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, the easier it is. So you wanna be able to climb as high as possible. The tree needs to be alive and healthy. And it needs to be positioned in such a way that if you’re there, they can’t do work. They can’t use bulldozers, they can’t dynamite, they can’t cut it down, and it actually, tactically, stops them from going into that part of the forest.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay. How about that one, John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: This is our tree.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s beautiful.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. This is definitely our tree. Perfect. Yeah, oh yeah. That would be a tree you could live in for awhile. We might just leave you out here, come back next week.

ANDREA BOWERS: You’ll have to go get me some food.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, well that’ll be part of our job.

[MUFFLED TALKING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Let’s say they were going to come and cut this tree, or cut this part of the forest—

ANDREA BOWERS: You had to get up fast.

JOHN QUIGLEY: —early morning. And you had to get up fast. The fastest way to do it is to throw a line over a limb and then pull up the climbing rope and then prusik up, because stirruping takes a lot of time. What we’re going to do, we’re going to stand back, maybe about 10 feet, we’re going to throw it over this large branch. And then once we’ve successfully done that, and then gotten the other end, we’re going to pull up the climbing rope. And then I’m going to ascend on the climbing rope, up to that branch, and then free climb from there up into the larger limb. And then I’m going to set an anchor with the rope.

So stand— I’d give yourself an angle, like right up here.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, I guess I can see—

JOHN QUIGLEY: As soon as you throw it, let it go. Okay good. Ah we got one.

ANDREA BOWERS: [LAUGHS] But the wrong angle.

Ah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Grab behind it. Make sure you have some part of the other end.

ANDREA BOWERS: Oh yeah, well you told me not to worry about it.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah!

ANDREA BOWERS: [LAUGHS] Did I do it? Is it going to fall?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No. Okay, hold on.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s not heavy enough.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Stay on.

ANDREA BOWERS: There.

JOHN QUIGLEY: You did it.

ANDREA BOWERS: Can you get it?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. Good work.

Okay, go ahead and pull the other side of the line.

ANDREA BOWERS: Am I going to get caught?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, what you got to do is kind of give it some slack and then swing it. There you go.

ANDREA BOWERS: Wow, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What?

ANDREA BOWERS: Fancy. It worked.

JOHN QUIGLEY: It worked.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m very proud of myself.

JOHN QUIGLEY: You should be. That was impressive. Impressive.

ANDREA BOWERS: Well—

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, so this you can retire.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Clear that up. Put it in the gear area. So I’m going to go up and hang some anchors. So the system we’re going to use is three locking ‘biners.

Okay. This is the figure eight.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: We’ll use that to descend. I’ll show you all this stuff. Right now the main thing is I want to get up and set this anchor.

[RUSTLING OF FABRIC]

Okay.

[LABORED BREATHING, WIND BLOWING]

Okay. So, the three main stages of when you actually climb a tree, usually stirruping is some component. In this case, it’s a little too wide at the base and we had a usable branch to do the throw, and then we set a line and prusik. But once you get up into a canopy, you can also do what we call limb to limb. So what I’m going to do right now, and then you create a longer safety, which is what I’m doing right now, it’ll be about 8 to 10 feet. So you have some latitude to move.

ANDREA BOWERS: Are you going to throw that around the branch?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I’m going to throw it around the branch and then I’m going to free climb up. And then once I get up, I’ll reset a safety up there.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And then I’ll take this safety off.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And I’ll probably just go up into that canopy right there.

[LABORED BREATHING, RUSTLING OF FABRIC]

Okay. Okay.

[BOTH LAUGH]

[METAL JINGLING, LABORED BREATHING]

Okay.

[WHIZZING OF NYLON]

Not a lot of friction on that. Okay. Right. We have a good spot. And you’ve got that view.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s amazing, huh.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So you’re going to want to just sleep here tonight. We may have to come back for you tomorrow.

ANDREA BOWERS: Does this go in the front?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

[FLY BUZZING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: You’re good. You’ve remembered well.

ANDREA BOWERS: Thank you. Now, this just goes like this?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, you need to double back.

ANDREA BOWERS: Is that double back?

JOHN QUIGLEY: And make sure you’ve got at least an inch, hopefully an inch and a half.

ANDREA BOWERS: I don’t have an inch. I put these things on, right? Now, I’m left-handed, should I put them all on the left side? Or—

JOHN QUIGLEY: It’s the same, but it just— so you want to hook it in like this.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, that I know.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So other way.

ANDREA BOWERS: I get that, but does it matter what side they go on?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No. Just whatever is going to be— there, that’s good. So get those on, let me get the— right here, you can take my figure eight.

[METAL JINGLING]

You can put one on the other side.

ANDREA BOWERS: Already did it. Is that okay, you want me to move one over?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Left-handed, put this—

ANDREA BOWERS: On this side?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No, other side.

ANDREA BOWERS: On the left side. Like this?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Nope, other way.

ANDREA BOWERS: Other way?

JOHN QUIGLEY: So that way it won’t bang you as much. Let’s get you hooked up on the rope and let’s do some climbing.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So you’ve got your harness on. Do you want to give it a shot?

ANDREA BOWERS: Ah, let me try. Okay, so I put it in the middle. Correct?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Correct.

ANDREA BOWERS: Then I take this and go like this around.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Mm hm.

ANDREA BOWERS: And then do I do it one more time?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Mm hm.

ANDREA BOWERS: Through there like that.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Mm hm. Excellent. Now let me see you line that up.

ANDREA BOWERS: Got to get it in the middle, I’m assuming.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Nice.

ANDREA BOWERS: Just like that. So this goes on my left.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: Opposite, diagonal. Okay. Then I’m going to use this other blue one. Okay, so, I went like— did I do it like that? I must have done it like that. Lift this through. I did it backwards again, didn’t I? Maybe I have to retie? No, that’s right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay good.

ANDREA BOWERS: Right?

JOHN QUIGLEY: There you go.

ANDREA BOWERS: Now flip it through?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: Just like this.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. Oh there’s a little lizard.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, do you remember the safety check?

ANDREA BOWERS: A is for anchor.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, check your anchor.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, it’s holding me.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay good.

ANDREA BOWERS: B, I can't remember. The buckle thingies? [LAUGHS] The B is–

JOHN QUIGLEY: Give me a definitive answer.

ANDREA BOWERS: I can’t remember what it’s called. I can’t remember B. I need help.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What holds you onto the rope?

ANDREA BOWERS: The end of the rope.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What holds your body onto the rope.

ANDREA BOWERS: My belt.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, so the belt, it’s supposed to be doubled around, which it is, and through a second time. And it should be two inches, mine’s, we got an inch and half, two inches.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Let me see.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m okay. I can’t get it much tighter.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, you’re good.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, then I wanna make sure that everything’s hooked in here. Now I want to check— does this— do these include— no, I do these when I check. Are these part of the belt?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No, go to C. It’s A, B, C, D.

ANDREA BOWERS: C, C, I don’t know what C is.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Carabiners.

ANDREA BOWERS: Carabiners. I can’t remember the name of them. Carabiners. Okay they’re all facing down. I’m locked in with all of them. They’re all facing the right direction.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay good. And then D.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, D is, I don’t know. I have to check—

JOHN QUIGLEY: Device.

ANDREA BOWERS: —the ropes.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah it’s basically your knots.

ANDREA BOWERS: Device

JOHN QUIGLEY: So think in terms of a line from the anchor all the way down.

ANDREA BOWERS: So we did the anchor already, and my ropes are pretty stable. Okay and then let’s check my knots here. Okay, so that looks really good. One, two, three, four. What’s that knot called?

JOHN QUIGLEY: It’s a prusik knot.

ANDREA BOWERS: Prusik knot, okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Stay with that.

ANDREA BOWERS: And then I’ll just follow this rope down to the double fly? No.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Double fisherman.

ANDREA BOWERS: Double fisherman. Fly fisherman.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, that’s good.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, it’s supposed to have two crosses in the front and four equal lines in the back and at least an inch on either end of the rope sticking out, burned, so it’s not raveling. Okay and that comes down and it’s stuck in. If I’m left-handed, it needs to be on my right side and locked. Okay. The next one is for my foot, so let’s check that rope. Four in the back, even. I’m going to go next to this, which is my safety. And it’s, is it okay behind? Should I put it in front?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Probably. It’s best to start clean.

ANDREA BOWERS: I think it’s best to be in the front, right?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Good call.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay. So I’m going to put that in the front. The knot is in the middle, which is good, on either end. Okay. And then I’m going to come down—

JOHN QUIGLEY: Check that double fisherman though.

ANDREA BOWERS: This double fisherman? Right, okay. Two crosses, ends are burned, four in the back. Looks really sturdy. It looks like it’s got at least an inch, if not more, on the pieces of fabric, or the rope hanging on the outside. Then this is for my foot. It’s wrapped around once. The knot is not by my foot. It seems sturdy and we seem good to go.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, you ready?

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m ready.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, ascend.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, so I’m going to put— I’m going to step. I’m going to step into this. How you doing, John?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I’m doing great.

ANDREA BOWERS: Oh, the light is right in my eye. Beautiful.

[LABORED BREATHING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Not a bad place to work.

ANDREA BOWERS: No, this is pretty amazing. These are lovely skills to teach somebody, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, you’re blazin’. One of the things you’re doing really well is using the tips of your toes to just—

ANDREA BOWERS: Nudge the tree.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, just nudge the tree—

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m trying to be delicate to it.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Well, both delicate for the tree, but also for your balance. You’ve got really good form there. And what that does, it minimizes extraneous movement and you’re able to move a lot faster up the tree.

ANDREA BOWERS: That’s the relaxing one right there.

JOHN QUIGLEY: When you sit?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. You’re doing fantastic.

ANDREA BOWERS It’s beautiful up here.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Mm-hm.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hoo!

[WIND BLOWING, FABRIC RUSTLING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Nice move, Andrea.

ANDREA BOWERS: Thanks. I get why some of the women are good at this though.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Why is that?

ANDREA BOWERS: Well because you can get into some smaller places, perhaps.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah and flexibility is a big part of it.

ANDREA BOWERS: Sorry.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah there’s so amazing women climbers.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m just trying to get in, so I’m putting more on the rope right now.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Umm, I’m going to ascend up.

ANDREA BOWERS: Now I think I’m all on dead branches right now, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right. So you stay on the rope. We’ll get repositioned. I want you to get off the ropes as soon as you can.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, I know. I’ve got one hooked up here but it’s got— well I think it’s 10 of one, half a dozen of the other.

JOHN QUIGLEY: As long as you get to two safeties that you feel good about.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, do you have two new safeties on?

ANDREA BOWERS: I just have one right now. But I’ve got three. I’m still hooked up in three.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. So take one of the safeties off the rope. Make sure your carabiner is locked on your new safety. And double check that your safety is actually attached to the tree—

ANDREA BOWERS: Whoops. Good job.

JOHN QUIGLEY: —before you detach.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay. Let me check this. I feel really tight on this tree with this.

JOHN QUIGLEY: So your safety is above you?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, not very far, but it is.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. And is it locked in your carabiner?

ANDREA BOWERS: Yep. I’m locked.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. So take off one of your safeties if you haven’t already.

ANDREA BOWERS: Can I send it down to you?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay, you ready?

JOHN QUIGLEY: No, no, no, you don’t need to send it down. Just put it over your neck.

ANDREA BOWERS: Put is over my shoulder?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. So put another safety on.

ANDREA BOWERS: See I can’t quite reach. I’ve got to go with this. Let me take this blue one off. I’m just taking one off right here that wasn’t doing anything.

JOHN QUIGLEY: How many safeties do you have on your body?

ANDREA BOWERS: I now— you mean that I’m hooked into?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yes.

ANDREA BOWERS: Two right now.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. Is one of them on the rope? Okay.

ANDREA BOWERS: Shit. These just aren’t, they’re like a couple of inches too short; that’s the problem.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, well you’ve got the blue and silver around your neck.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah, I've gotta take them off and do it. [WHISPERS:] Okay let's think about this.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Tell me as soon as you’re good.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’ve got a big knot up here.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. Take your time. Are you breathing?

ANDREA BOWERS: I am. I’m just trying to undo this knot. I have no idea how it got knotted like this. Keep your equipment clean.

JOHN QUIGLEY: What is it that got knotted?

ANDREA BOWERS: I got it. I’m undone.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’ve just got an extra one, so I’m wrapping it over my head.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay.

[LABORED BREATHING]

ANDREA BOWERS: Lock it in. Okay. Oh, the back. I’m in the most awkward position.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, so before you release that last safety off the rope, I want you to talk me through everything that’s going on with your safeties.

ANDREA BOWERS: Well, I’m locked into two— I’m locked into two ropes on the tree, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. Double check that they’re actually over a living limb that will support your weight.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s living. It is the same limb right now.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. And it’s looped through, you know for sure that. Have you tested it? That it is connected to the tree?

ANDREA BOWERS: Oh that's you. [LAUGHS] Yes, I'm looped through. I've tested.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, so you’ve got three points of protection?

ANDREA BOWERS: Well yes, because my butt is one of them right now.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. So you’re off the rope?

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m off the rope.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, so go ahead and take your prusik off the rope, completely. And put that around your neck, and then I’m going to ascend.

Okay, tell me when you’re good.

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m good, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. I’m coming up.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

[ZIP OF ROPE MOVING, LABORED BREATHING]

JOHN QUIGLEY: Oh that sun is nice.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah. Okay, so we’re going to get cozy. This canopy, backlit like this, is amazing.

ANDREA BOWERS: I know it’s beautiful, huh.

[ZIP OF ROPE MOVING, LABORED BREATHING]

You’re fast, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: You guys are cozy up here. See normally at the end of the day, we could just settle into the platform. Have a little food.

ANDREA BOWERS: We need the bucket and stuff sent up.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right. Okay.

ANDREA BOWERS: Hi, welcome.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Thank you. Got a little tree family growing here. So—

ANDREA BOWERS: Do you want me to try to move up some?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, let me just survey the situation.

ANDREA BOWERS: Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Oh wow, the light up here. If we could get you up here, Andrea.

ANDREA BOWERS: I can get up there.

JOHN QUIGLEY: It’s a really interesting web of branches.

ANDREA BOWERS [LAUGHING]: I've got pine needles in my ears. Okay.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, this is kind of a tricky—

ANDREA BOWERS: John Quigley, where are you?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I’m up here.

ANDREA BOWERS: I feel very, I feel very safe, actually.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Well, once you get up into the canopy, you know it’s a whole different experience. So we used the technical to ascend, and then this is pretty much like free climbing.

ANDREA BOWERS: Yeah.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And it’s good.

ANDREA BOWERS: Let’s talk about, too, when you have a normal tree sit, what else you need in the tree with you.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay, well what we would do now, if we were doing a full-on tree sit, is we would haul up the tree platform I have down there. And that basically would be your bed, this sort of building block. And we would attach it to an anchor on a limb, or the trunk, similar to how I attached an anchor for the rappel line. And then, you know, you haul up a thermarest, a sleeping bag. You’d haul up a backpack with gear. You’d haul up a bucket with food. You’d haul up— our general theory was to bring up rations for about a week in case they cleared out the ground crew and you couldn’t get resupplied.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s good to have a ground crew, huh.

JOHN QUIGLEY: It’s really good to have a ground crew. I mean it’s— you can’t really do a tree sit, an effective tree sit, without a great ground crew. Because they resupply you, they help you recycle your waste, and all that stuff.

ANDREA BOWERS: The reason that one would do a tree sit, because I know people are going to think, how is this nonviolent civil disobedience? How is this a, you know, a political action, just to tree sit?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Well, to tree sit, it depends. It depends on where you do it and when you do it.

ANDREA BOWERS: Right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Because if someone is coming in to destroy a forest, to clear-cut a forest, or if they're going to cut down a heritage tree, and you climb the tree to prevent them from doing that, it's an extreme act of nonviolent political civil disobedience. And you are essentially placing your body in harm's way and challenging authority by saying, "If you wanna kill this, you have to kill me." Or, "You have to deal with me and run the risk of killing me or hurting me." And, you know, it's also a way of expressing your commitment and saying, "This matters this much to me that I'm willing to do this."

ANDREA BOWERS: I’m getting your view, John.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah.

ANDREA BOWERS: It’s a little lower than your view, but it’s pretty stunning.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Yeah, it’s an amazing spot.

[BIRDS CHIRPING]

[FOOTSTEPS CRUNCHING IN SNOW]

I’m Tim DeChristopher, I’m 28 years old, and I’m a climate activist.

The BLM Oil and Gas Auction was announced in November 2008 and it included huge areas of eastern Utah, right on the borders of Canyonlands and Arches National Park. And it was pretty clear that not much thought had gone into it. That they were just trying to get as much into the hands of the oil companies before Bush left office as possible. They didn't do an adequate environmental impact statement, they shortcutted a lot of the public comment and blocked public comment. And most importantly, there was just no acknowledgement that this was going to have a major impact on our climate. So all that, to me, kind of made this a really outrageous thing that was going on and convinced me that it was something that we couldn't accept, that we had to do something about. And there were some folks having a protest outside while the auction was going on and I went down there for the protest, but, at the same time, realized that the protest wasn't actually going to do anything. It wasn't enough just to hold a sign on the sidewalk, that we had to make a stronger statement. And so I decided I was going to go inside. And instead of the security dragging me out, they said, "Hi, are you here for the auction?" And I said, "Well, yes, I am." And they said, "Would you like to be a bidder?" And I said, "Well, yes, I would." And at that point I still had no idea what I was going to do. You know, my intention going in there was I was going to cause some kind of a disruption. I thought that would be like yelling or making a speech or throwing a shoe or something like that, and so even when they said, "Would you like to be a bidder?", I was thinking, well, yeah, I'll sign up to be a bidder and then I can get in there and make a speech or something. But it wasn't until I was actually inside that I saw I had an opportunity to cause a major disruption by bidding. And that I could really have an impact on this auction. And I could really, perhaps, cause enough chaos that things'll be screwed up until the new administration comes in and they could possibly be overturned.

I knew what the consequences would be. I’d just signed a piece of paper that said I understand it’s a federal offense to bid without the intent to pay. So I was sitting there thinking, if I do this and I go to prison for a few years, could I live with that? And I thought, yeah, I could live with that. It would suck, but I could live with that. I knew that I couldn’t live with myself if I had turned my back on that opportunity, so I had to do it. So I started out kind of hesitantly, just one foot at a time, and started bidding and driving up the prices, but making sure I didn’t win anything. I was paying close attention to the oil men that I was bidding against and just waiting and driving their prices up and then getting out before I actually won anything. And that was kind of effective. I mean, I was costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars and so it felt good to be doing that. It felt like I was having an effect. But I was also still seeing these huge chunks of land going into the hands of the oil companies, so I knew I could be doing more. I knew I had to actually win these parcels. So, finally, I went all in and started winning every single parcel. And by the last few, I was just keeping my bid card up in the air constantly, not even bringing it down. And so they realized something was up and they stopped the auction and a federal agent came over to me and asked me to step outside and that’s when they started questioning me about what was going on.

When they first started questioning me, they weren't quite sure if I was a billionaire's son or something, so they were trying to be kind of diplomatic, and they said— well, they showed me this sheet of all the parcels that I won and they said, "Oh, it looks like you've won about $1.8 million worth of leases so far and the down payment on that today is around $45,000 and we're just wondering, you know, what your intentions are and how you plan on paying for that." And I said, "Well, my intention is to disrupt this auction in any way that I can. This is a fraud against the American people and a threat to my future and I intend to do whatever I can to stop it." And they were kind of thrown off by that and eventually took me into custody, but still weren't quite sure how to proceed. And this auction was on December 19, in 2008, which made it 31 days, 32 days, before Obama took office. And it was on a Friday afternoon, so they were calling back and forth between the BLM agents and the US Attorney's Office trying to figure out what to do, if they could put those parcels back up for auction. But some of the oil men had already left, so they couldn't re-auction them that day, so they had to wait until Monday. And the rules for oil drilling is you have to publicly announce any parcels that you're going to auction off 30 days in advance. And 30 days beyond that was after Obama had taken office, so they couldn't re-auction them while Bush was still in office. And so it went into the new administration. Once the new administration came in, the new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, invalidated almost the entire auction, not just the parcels that I won, but a lot of the other parcels as well, because the BLM wasn't following their own rules. So they admitted that it was an illegitimate auction and they've kept digging into that with the way that oil auctions were done during the Bush years. So they've been changing the way they're doing oil leases now and most of those parcels are at least temporarily protected for now.

The land that was up for auction was all around the Red Rock area of southern-eastern Utah. It’s kind of the classic land that you think of with Utah, with these red rocks spires and canyons and buttes and it’s really amazing land that if it was anywhere other than right next to Arches National Park, it would be a national park on its own.

On April 1 of last year, I was indicted on two federal felony charges: one for making false statements and one for violation of the Oil and Gas Leasing Act. So each of those carries a five-year sentence. So I’d be looking at a maximum of 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, at this point. And that case has really dragged on for a long time. The first thing that happened was the prosecution filed a motion to limit my defense. They said that I shouldn’t be allowed to use what’s called the necessity defense, the argument that my actions were justified because I was preventing greater harm and I had a necessity to act. And so they successfully took that part out and the judge granted them that motion so now I’m not allowed to use that defense. Now it makes it a lot harder for me to bring up a lot of the facts of the case, like the illegality of the auction itself and the fact that the federal government has already admitted that what I was standing in the way of was something illegal, and the threats of climate change and how those aren’t even considered when we’re making decisions about drilling for oil. That’s really the key stuff that needs to be discussed, I think. That’s the purpose of a trial is to air out whether the way that we’re doing things is really just. So I think it’s really important that the jury gets all that information. So that’s the main thing we’re going to be working on in the trial, is trying to get that information out there.

At the time of the auction, I was a student at the University of Utah studying economics, and I actually had a final exam that morning, the morning of the auction, and that's why I was late. I came directly from my final exam to the auction and, ironically, one of the questions on the exam was about the auction. And it said, "In the auction that's going to happen later today, if it's only oil and gas men in the room, is the final price of these parcels going to reflect the true cost of developing oil?" So it was all about the externalities of oil development, all the costs that we don't pay at the pump but we pay it through our tax dollars. And so that was very fresh in my mind when I was going in there and seeing these parcels going for $2 an acre or $10 an acre and knowing that that wasn't the real cost, that we were going to be paying a lot more.

Well, Utah is the most conservative state in the country, as far as voting, and there’s certainly a lot of opposition to environmentalism in general. So when I took that action, I was thinking, well, most people are going to be really opposed to what I’m doing. And I knew that it wouldn’t be very popular. But I’ve actually been really shocked by how much support I’ve been getting and how broad that support has been. I’ve gone and spoke in some of the really conservative areas of Utah and gotten overwhelming support in those areas, which has really been surprising. I think part of that is that this auction represented a lot of the abuse of government power that conservatives are upset about, as well. But I think, also, people are just seeing that our system is really thoroughly broken and working within the system is not going to get us to where we want to be. That we’re not going to achieve a just world through petitions and lobbying and stuff like that. That we really do need to go push the boundaries because nothing else is working.

The trial is called the United States of America versus Tim DeChristopher. That's literally the name of it. [LAUGHS] So people have said that they don't really feel comfortable with that, with being represented as the United States of America in opposition to what I did, because there is so much support out there.

I’ve got a really amazing legal team that volunteered. One of them is Patrick Shea, who’s the former director of the BLM during the Clinton administration. He used to be in charge of these auctions and sees that the way that they were done for the past eight years is really illegitimate. And so now wants to stand with me to help change that.

One of the big failures of the climate movement is the failure to understand how people are motivated. I don’t know where the line was when I became an activist. I think a lot of it came from my parents and the things that they had taught me and the example that they had set. It all came from their values, but now they’re kind of upset that it’s led me to this point and I’m looking at a prison sentence. But, you know, my mom was an environmental activist when I was a kid. She was one of the founders of the West Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, back in the day when it was a grassroots organization. I was a little toddler when she used to drag me to courtroom battles with coal companies. And both my parents are very stubborn. I think that’s the key of activism is being stubborn, not accepting the way that things are and not accepting what we’re told to accept.

The opposite of an activist is someone who’s complicit. And my parents certainly passed on their stubbornness to me, and that mindset of never being complicit and thinking independently, and I think that’s where activism comes from. I think optimism is overrated. That’s another one of the problems of the climate movement is that we’re told that we’re always supposed to be hopeful and optimistic and we’ve got to stay positive and we’re not supposed to have these negative emotions, like fear and outrage and despair and things like that. But those emotions are real. They’re a real part of human nature and they’re there for a reason. For me, the catalyst that pushed me towards this action was when I lost hope. I think that despair is absolutely necessary because it reflects reality.

The key turning point for me was in 2008 when I met one of the Nobel Prize–winning IPCC scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and it was Dr. Terry Root. And I spoke to her after a presentation that she gave, and questioned her about some things, and she said, "I'm sorry, it's too late." She said, "There were things we could have done in the eighties, and things we could have done in the nineties, but I think, now, it's probably too late." And she literally put her hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm sorry, my generation failed yours." And she totally shattered me. But it's also what committed me to action, because I let go of everything else that I was holding onto. I let go of the hope that things would be okay, and let go of the hope that other people would solve this, and I let go of the hope that I could live this normal life, you know, the easy and comfortable life that we're promised in our culture.

And I think that’s the biggest reason why the climate movement has failed is that most of the people involved are too comfortable in their lives. I think there’s too many rich people in this movement and it’s hard to be a rich activist because it’s almost impossible to change the world when you’re committed to keeping your own life the same. If you’re not willing to let your own life change, then how do you expect to change the world?

I’ve been scared for my future for a long time and scared for much more than a few years in prison. So, you know, looking at— now, as we’re getting close to the trial, realizing that I’m probably going to be serving time, that’s very real to me, and I don’t have any illusions that that’s a nice place, but it really can’t compare with the consequences of being complicit with the status quo right now.

[METAL FENCE CLINKING, SOFT DIN OF CROWD]

JOHN QUIGLEY: You know, I had a lot of— a lot of darkness was happening all around. Everything from the sniper in DC, who was right outside my mother’s house. I mean, the first person that he killed was at my mom’s gas station.

[FEET SHUFFLING]

And then with the climate of the war, pushed by Bush, and seemingly all of the leadership in Washington just rolling over—

[METAL FENCE CLINKING]

—and then the one bright light, the one person who I felt was really standing up, was the senator from my home state of Minnesota: Paul Wellstone. And I was holding on, because he was the one person who was in a tough re-election fight, who voted against the war. And the day after the sniper was caught, he was killed.

[FEET SHUFFLING, BIRDS CHIRPING]

It was just like this sequence of events.

And then, the next day I was sitting at my desk, and I got this email that said, "Tree sitter wanted." They were looking for someone to save this old oak tree. It was just one big tree in an area that was already developed; and it was going to be cut in less than 48 hours.

And I thought, man, they’re never going to find anyone to pull it together in time, to really do this. And I just thought, maybe I’ll be up there for a few days, maybe a week. It’d be a chance to reconnect with nature.

The night before I climbed into the tree, I suddenly thought— I wanted to bring a flag up there, because, to me, the tree represented America. And I think that a lot of times people just accept that the flag means militarism. It means, "We're going to war, so get your flag out." And I just thought, you know what? This is an act. I'm defending our country right here. The flag should be in this tree.

Having lived in a tree before, naming a tree is not— a tree’s name needs to just sort of come. You can’t just say, okay, we’re going to name the tree this. It’s got to have a story behind it, a reason why, and something that makes— that’s organic to the tree. And so we had all these different names that people came up with, and they were all good names, but it just— And we had called this rally November 10, and we’re going to try to name the tree. None of the names seem to really fit the tree. And so I had decided, you know what, let’s just call it The Old Oak Tree, because that’s what it is.

But just before that rally, this father had stopped by with a letter from his kids to the county supervisors. And I hadn't had a chance to read it before the rally. But after the rally, they sent it up to me in my bucket, and I was there, and it was dark, and I was reading with the light. And there's this beautiful letter from these two kids, Taylor and Blake Borland. And they talked about growing up in that area, how they had seen all of the old oak trees cut down. And they talked about these famous trees called the Kissing Oaks that were just down the road, and how they used to watch hawks nest there. And then they talked about how now they have to worry about Old Glory, and that was their name for the oak tree. And then they said, "We call her Old Glory because she stands there, in all her glory and splendor, representing all the trees that have already been cut down." And that's where the name came from.

NEWS ANCHOR: In the beginning, they perched in the limbs of endangered redwoods to save forests. Now the battle lines are moving. More from ABC’s Brian Rooney in Santa Clarita, California.

BRIAN ROONEY: The Western tree sitter is a breed of environmental protester usually seen in remote logging forests. But as growing suburbs push further into the wild, the tree sitter has come to the suburbs. Veteran tree sitter John Quigley has taken up residence in a 400-year-old oak tree to save it from developers who want to widen this road.

JOHN QUIGLEY: It was here before the pilgrims came; almost twice as old as our country. And then you look on the other side of the road, and you see what’s being called progress: all these subdivisions where they just bulldoze the land.

BRIAN ROONEY: When developers build houses here in the Southern California hills, the easy place to put the roads is in the canyons, but that’s also where the creeks are and where the trees grow. They often cut down or move the trees, and sometimes even name streets after them. This one giant tree has become a rallying point for local people, many of whom live in tract developments themselves.

LAURIE COLTON: We’ve seen so much cut down and so much development, and we have to draw a line in the sand.

MAN (SINGING): So gather round, friends, help us, in a circle, hand in hand.

BRIAN ROONEY: Quigley and his supporters rejected a proposal by the county supervisor to move the enormous tree. The politician seems prepared to wait.

MIKE ANTONOVICH: Well, you and I both know nobody’s going to spend their entire life on a branch of a tree.

BRIAN ROONEY: Quigley has been up there since November 1—long enough to receive mail addressed to the tree.

JOHN QUIGLEY: It says, "Mr. Quigley, Tree Sitter, Tree 419." This development here should have been designed around the tree. This could have been a centerpiece of a beautiful development.

BRIAN ROONEY: Now it is the centerpiece of an argument about suburban sprawl. Brian Rooney, ABC News, Santa Clarita, California.

JOHN QUIGLEY: There had been a three-year moratorium on cutting the tree, and it expired at midnight on Halloween. And they had gotten a call from someone on the Santa Clarita City Council saying the tree is going to be cut at 7 am on Friday.

I thought one of two things were gonna happen. I thought either they were going to come and try to get me out in the first few days, or there was going to be some kind of legal situation that would protect the tree while it was still being debated. And I thought that that would happen. I thought maybe it might take a week, but I was pretty much alone. I mean, especially at night, I was totally alone. There was no one on the ground. There was no street lights, and— There were a few— the first few nights, I just wasn’t sure how the community was going to react.

What happened after the first day is that there were— in the local newspapers, there was front-page stories. It was like no one really knew about it except for some people up in the local area. And I think it was either the second or third night, at about 4 am, someone came and fired a gun off in front of the tree. But I decided not to tell the sheriff because I didn’t want a newspaper article about someone shooting at the guy in the tree, so that would sensationalize it and maybe other people would try to do it, too. But those first couple weeks were really cool because it was just such an outpouring of support from the community.

And so many people would come and bring me food by the fifth, sixth, seventh day, that I just had plastic bags full of this amazing food everywhere up in the tree. I wanted to— they went to the trouble of either cooking or buying the food. I wanted to honor them. I’d haul it up in the tree, and then it was just there. I couldn’t possibly eat it all. And so later, I started saying, you know what, only a home-cooked meal. I had to set restrictions on it so that I wasn’t just wasting a lot of food. Eventually they had a sign-up board and people would sign up for which meals to do and stuff like that.

But I had said when I was going up in the tree, "Look, I need to come down to vote." So I had a friend of mine come and replace me for about five hours, so I could go and vote and do all of that. And so I came back and 10 minutes after I was in the tree, the sheriff pulled up and said, "I was dispatched. They're coming to cut the tree today." And I was like, whoa. Because the feeling was we had gotten a vote from the city council of Santa Clarita to save the tree. And I just thought that we were moving in the direction that they would find a way to save the tree. I wasn't expecting the police drama at that moment. But we had prepared for it, and so I made my round of calls and said— and man, the media was there.

Well, we had about 20 people within 15 minutes at the base of the tree, and the media showed up very shortly after. And then the sheriffs en masse showed up, and they said they were going to arrest the women at the base of the tree. And they weren't budging. And so then they consulted, I guess, with the developer and came back and said, "Okay, we're not going to arrest you, but we're going to build a fence at three o'clock, and anyone inside is trespassing." And once the fence was built, it was like The Truman Show. Just 24-hour cameras on me and no privacy.

That was a trip. Those first couple of days were really a trip, and I was just like so focused because I know what it’s like to go back to a tree that you’ve lived in and see it as a stump. I know that feeling. And I was determined not to have that with this tree.

[CLINKING CHAIN]

And then the next morning, after they built the fence, I woke up just a little before sunrise, and I got really emotional. I cried for like 10 minutes, just thinking that this could be the last day of the tree because I knew that there was no way that I could physically defend the tree. Because it wasn’t high enough.

When you climb in the redwoods, who are in the temperate rainforest, you can get up 150, 200 feet, where it’s really— you can get to a place where they can’t get you. They can’t physically remove you. I knew there was no way I could get to a spot like that in the tree.

So this is when it blew up into a really big story because all the news crews were there, and they were following it. And I don't know how they got organized or what happened, but all these kids from the neighborhood, like 40 of them, they had these homemade signs. And they stood on the hill right across the street and for hours. I mean, I had no real interaction with them until much later in the day. They just were chanting, "Save our oak," "Save Old Glory," and "Hold on, John," and all this. And it gave me a lot of strength.

And then I got a call on my cell phone. And it was the sheriff's negotiator saying, "John, what's it going to take to get you down?" And I said, "Well, save the tree or you're gonna have to come drag me out." And she was all like, "Well, you've been up there for a long time now. It's really in the best interest." And I said, "Well, you know, amazingly, I've just been down for a couple of days, and I feel really rested and strong. And I was up here for 10 days before. I'm sure I could do another 10 days." She didn't have another word to say to me. [LAUGHS] Then she hung up.

A few minutes later, phone rings again. "John, the developers made an offer." And I was like, "Okay, what it is?" And she said, "Get out of the tree, and we won't cut it for 60 days, and we'll try to figure it out." And I was like, "Well, that's a nice start, but that's not gonna do it."

And it was those moments that the whole thing turned. So then there was a sequence of phone calls with this negotiator, which set up a round of meetings the following day, and we went through the whole weekend. And by Monday, after massive pressure, through this whole drama that went on, then-Supervisor Antonovich said, "Okay, we'll move the tree." Because he had been holding the line: The tree has to be cut, has to be cut, has to be cut. And then, once that happened, it took us by surprise. But I knew, okay, that means the tree is not going to be a stump.

Oh, the other thing that was just magical about it is that everything they tried to do to defeat us turned around on them. Like that day, they built the fence, okay? Well what the fence did is it became a shrine for all the kids. It’s like one of those 9/11 shrines where everyone put their pictures and their drawings and their wishes.

And then they brought in these huge floodlights to try to keep me from getting sleep. Well, all that did is just it illuminated the tree, and everyone fell in love with it. They were watching it on TV at night, beautifully illuminated. And eventually, some of our supporters got the keys to those generators so we’d turn them on and off at will.

And then they had a security guard who ended up becoming our bouncer. He'd be like, "Hey, John, are they cool to come in?" And we used the fence as a way to protect the tree and to keep it from getting too crazy in there.

But what I wanted to talk about is just the economy of movement that’s required to be in the tree. The subtleties of how— because the issue of things falling from the tree is a major one, both for just you want to be safe, but also breaking things. I dropped my cell phone like three or four times. My file cabinets were my pockets. So I had all the numbers. But just to get things, you sort of go like this, and you pull it out very slowly, and you make sure you have it, because all it takes is just a half a second of it not being secured for the wind to just blow it off, and then it’s a major deal to get it back.

Someone’s got to go track it on the ground and then come and you haul it up in the bucket. And each time you haul up that bucket— I mean, I was hauling that bucket up sometimes 50 times a day. That’s just time and energy spent. And so, I became very conscious of the subtle— I mean, the subtle adjustments in your body language to keep the platform that, at one point, started to get a little tilted. And so I really began to revel in the subtleties of movements.

And I had these four branches in my platform. And I had— like certain times of the day, I’d like to sit with my back leaning on one of the branches because the sun was in a certain position. So I had— people sit in different chairs or couches in their living room; I had my different branches that I would lean on in different ways.

And then the daily cycles, whether it’s sleeping, eating, going to the bathroom, you really become aware of what you take in to your body because you know it’s got to come out. And when you’re in the tree, when it comes out, it’s a major deal. I mean, you have privacy issues and just discomfort issues with all of that. So eventually, we built this shelter down below, about halfway down the tree, where I could go and have some privacy, and it was almost like sitting on a toilet.

But in the early days, when I was just up on my platform, I’d have to wrap myself in a blanket. If I didn’t go to the bathroom at night, it was a major ordeal. And the last few days when I was— when they isolated me— as someone said, at first, it was life under the microscope, and then it became life under the telescope.

But then, we had this Santa Ana storm. The canyon becomes— it acts like a funnel. And so the winds got over 70 miles an hour, and it was just insane in the top of that oak tree. I mean, it was like— I spent 36 hours just basically holding on. Everything is just going, going, going, and you can’t get a hold on anything.

So that night, I remember, it seemed like every time my mind started to wander off into, "Oh, wow, what does this mean to be on the front page of the LA Times and to have people say that you're famous now," or things like that. What does that mean? And every time I start to get into those little thoughts, it seemed like the wind whipped up. And see, it just did right now.

[WIND BEATING ON MICROPHONE]

And it would just hammer me. I'd just be knocked all over the place. And I go, "Okay." And then I just get back on to Old Glory and the tree and what I was doing there. And I felt like that whole experience helped strip away any temptation to want to make it about me.

[WIND CHIMES TINKLING]

The wind storm brought in Cucuy. Because that morning— I was telling you, it’s like 36 hours of that wind storm. That following morning, Cucuy showed up, or his announcer, Elio. And they wanted me to do an interview, and I was just being blown all over in the tree.

But I said, "Okay," so they sent up, or we did it on cell phone and I could hardly hear. Plus, I couldn't understand Spanish, really. And I was getting blown all over the place. And while we were doing the interview, there was this Native American spiritual leader doing a ceremony down below, doing this song.

So I’m hearing this Native American song, I’m hearing this scratchy cell phone Spanish interview, and I’m being thrown four or five feet around on this platform. And I was just looking up at the sky, going, there’s got to be a reason why this is happening to me because it all seemed insane at that moment.

And that was the first interview with Cucuy, and then he really just championed it and brought so many people out there. I mean, we estimate we had over 20,000 people come to visit the tree over those two months, once it became a big story. And I mean, a lot of them were Latinos.

The more I understood— I mean, Cucuy did tremendous things for us. And I guess he was playing this song about a father and a son who plant a tree together, like when he’d talk about the tree. And it was moving people to tears. And so, I was grateful for that. I mean, some of the Latino families who came out there was so moving. We had one family who came, drove all night from Santa Rosa, like eight hours, and spent an hour at the tree and drove back.

And what it did, though, is, I think it uncovered a certain element of racism in the local community. And was very confronting for a lot of the white folks who had moved out there to get away, as one said, from that element, which I thought was great because it was forcing them to confront this in themselves. And in some ways, I think it ultimately led to the decision to take me out of the tree because the community was getting upset.

[HAMMERING, CONSTRUCTION TRUCKS WHIRRING]

You see, part of what being in the tree and articulating for the tree was I needed to stay on message and stay focused. And you have this spectrum of reasons why they shouldn’t cut the tree. I mean, to me, it’s because it’s a sacred, ancient being. I mean, it’s amazing that anyone even would conceive of cutting that tree down. But not everyone feels that way, obviously.

So then there’s another level, which is that, it’s a part of our natural heritage, which is the patriotic, which it also is, and respecting what was here before our country was formed. And then you go a little further on that, and you get into more of the self-interest idea for all the homeowners there.

It's like, "Hey, your property values are going to drop." "Your kids aren't going to be safe because there's going to be a highway here." It's like you get into all these different levels and how to articulate those at which time.

What’s happened since I’ve come down is that we’ve flushed out this road report, where they spelled it out—finally the county—that they want a 65-mile-an-hour expressway there. So now the homeowners are threatening to a class-action lawsuit. So it’s happening, but—

There’s a lot of charge to people taking an action like I did. People have different viewpoints, different labels they like to slap on it. And sometimes, people don’t act in their own self-interest. They get so caught up in their labels that they forget to even advocate for themselves.

So in the case of homeowners who were against what I was doing, even though clearly it would benefit them— but that’s all part of it. You take an action like that, that all comes with it.

MAN: I’ve driven by this tree a hundred times. I’ve never thought about it. Now you’re sitting in it. All of a sudden, everybody wants to save the tree.

JOHN QUIGLEY: This one morning, this guy, who, when he first pulled up, I thought he was going to be a heckler. And he just said, "You know, you realize that the story is now more about you than the tree." And he said, "And I support saving the tree, but I just want you to know that the story is now more about you than the tree."

And I was like, I said, "I know." I go, "I know. That's why I'm trying to figure out— just trying to figure out what to do." And the strategy for that was to get some of the local folks, and we had these local mountaineers who were going to start rotating for me. So it would become— I would exit the story. I'd still be involved, but it was about the tree, and it was about people taking action.

I finally decided on a date, which was Day 70, that I would come out of the tree. And the night before Day 70, and it was about one o’clock, I laid down. And I kind of went into a half sleep. And then all of a sudden, I heard this noise. And there was like 30 vehicles. And I just like shot up.

And it was so clear. Okay, it’s done; it’s happened. They cleared the ground crew out. And I was telling the ground crew to go because it made no sense for them to get arrested. So once they had secured the area and they were starting to build this fence.

And there was some neighbor—I’m not sure who it was—who came down just livid that they were building this fence because they were using jackhammers at 2 am. And he’s just yelling at them. But I made it through that, and they built the fence. And by morning, by 6 am, most of them were gone. But then, everyone was cleared out. It was the new reality.

So basically, they were just going to try to starve me out. I mean, I was fenced in, and there was like 10 people— 10 guards, right? And what was so ironic about all of that security was defeated by a teenage girl and her little brother, who came and brought me cookies and orange juice.

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: And that kid, he’s one of my heroes. Because I was sitting up there, and then I saw these two. I saw them down there. And I didn’t want to call attention to them.

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: The kid starts to run, and then the guard saw them, but they were outside of the two fences.

BOY: And then I got in, and then the policeman saw me, and they told me to get out of there. And my sister, she told me to keep on going, and they told me that they were going to put me in jail. And my sister told me that they wouldn’t because I was little.

JOHN QUIGLEY: And so they were like, "No, no, no, no." And so the kids stopped.

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: And this kid was just like, erh, erh, erh, erh, erh. And then I was like, "Go, go! Here, here." And he was like, he finally got it, and he ran for it. And he ran to the base of the tree, and I grabbed the rope, and I threw it down. I threw it down, and they had taken the bucket off, right? So it was too high. He couldn't reach it. It was just out of his reach. He was just reaching for it. I was like, oh—

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: It was still kind of high for him, and he got it on there. And I'm like, "All right!" And I started pulling it up, and he just booked.

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

BOY: [GIGGLES]

JOHN QUIGLEY: And they got out. They got out. And they got right to the second fence, right when the security guards got there.

GIRL: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: And it was just so awesome. All that massive security defeated by like a seven-year-old kid.

[WIND CHIMES TINKLING, MUFFLED SPEAKING]

With that final day, I had a dilemma, because if they started to cut branches of the tree in order to get me out, at what point do I say, "Stop. Okay, I'm coming out."

And in my conversation with the developer, I let him know that that was an issue, and that I didn’t want them to use that as a reason to cut the tree.

[SMALL CROWD OF PEOPLE SPEAKING AT ONCE]

ANTHONY ZINNANTI: I’m offended. I’m offended by the behavior of the opposing counsel, okay? I expected more. I expected a quality professional relationship with these individuals, and what I get is a dead phone line.

REPORTER: What’s John’s state of mind?

ANTHONY ZINNANTI: John’s state of mind is one of— he’s such a hopeful guy, okay? He’s keeping the faith. He knows that this fight is a long way from being over.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Right before they came for me, they let my lawyer in. And he sent up his cell phone to me. And I was just like, god, of all the times where— it’s the moment of truth. This is the time where you need— I need to be able to call media and give them my thoughts.

Well, I get the cell phone, and the phone rings. And it's City News Service, right? [LAUGHS] And they're calling for the lawyer. And then like, "Well, no, he's down below." So I was able to give my final words.

And then I called my dad, and I talked to him about the situation. And I asked him what he thought I should do. And at first, he said, "You know, John, I really don't the situation that well. I think you and the people there need to make the decisions." I said, "Come on, dad, just what's your gut on it?" And he said, "Well—"

Because at that point, they were offering me $300,000 to go to charity, to come out of the tree. But they were going to cut the tree. And it was like, you know. So I explained everything to him.

And he said, "Well, the charity money, you know how that goes. It'll end up in someone's pocket. It won't—" And he said, "And, you know, stand by your principles." And it was really great. It was like my dad was really there for me at a key moment.

[SAWING, HAMMERING]

I was dealing with all these fine lines. And I thought if they can cut me out, that's really my last line of defense. Because they were all concerned that I was going to do something crazy and someone was going to get hurt. And I said, "Look, I've been up in this tree for a couple of months. My systems are safe as long as you guys handle yourself safely. But you are going to have to cut me out of this thing."

And they were all like, "Oh, well no problem." So they started working away. And they actually cut through it, the outer edge, pretty easily, easier than I thought they would. And they looked at the chain, and it's like, "Oh, that chain will be no problem." And then it took them like an hour.

Once they cut me out, the choice was, do I to have them carry me out or do I go out under my own power? And I just thought, you know, I've been in this tree through windstorms and rain, and even hail one day, it's like, I'm not going to have them carry me out. I'm going to go out like a man. [LAUGHS]

So that’s what I did. I stepped into the thing, and there were all these supporters up on the hill. And I raised my arms to them, and everyone was cheering. There were hundreds of supporters down there. And I just tried to think of it as a victory.

MICHELLE TUZEE: Good evening, I’m Michelle Tuzee.

MARC BROWN: I'm Marc Brown. Here's the latest at 11. It's a story we've been following closely here on Eyewitness News. Quigley climbed up the tree back in November, on November 1, to try to save it from developers. Tonight, authorities said it was time to come down. Eyewitness News reporter Bryan Jenkins is live in Stevenson Ranch with the story. Bryan.

BRYAN JENKINS: Well, Marc, they just brought John Quigley down. Now if you look behind me, you can see the crowd of people at the fence, behind which they had isolated Quigley in the tree. They brought him down to the gate and much to the cheers of all of the people that were out here supporting him, out here watching this ordeal over the last 70 days.

Here’s how it went down. Earlier tonight, they first isolated, as we said, John Quigley, behind a fence about 400 yards away from the tree, keeping supporters from getting in the way. Then police and firefighters or sheriff’s deputies, rather, assisted by firefighters, went up into that tree using a cherry picker and a ladder to serve notice to Quigley that he had to come down.

They gave Quigley about 20 minutes, and then, when he failed to come down, they went in and cut away these dragon locks he had— he used to keep himself around the branch of the tree. At that point, they brought him down and brought him out.

He didn’t win his battle, but, hey, he looked good trying, if you talk to some of these folks out here. Residents who’ve been watching this in anger, were really more angry at the developers than they were at what was happening to Quigley.

STEVE WLODYCHEK: I mean, they’re talking about the Newhall Ranch project, which is about five miles away from here, hasn’t even been approved by the county, and they want to tear this tree down for that. What do you need a four-lane highway for here? What’s the rush?

LORECE BRIGHT-BERRY: And what’s the big rush in taking him down today? Are they going to start the road tomorrow? And it’s causing a lot of creation for the neighbors and everybody else around, and I just think it’s awful.

BRYAN JENKINS: So that’s been the sentiment of a lot of folks here in Stevenson Ranch we talked to. But again, Quigley is down. And the crowd of his supporters and a lot of residents who’ve been watching this cheered as they brought him out.

At this point, he is not technically under arrest. He is simply going to be left outside of the fence. If he goes back in the fence to climb up in the tree again, they will have him arrested. Reporting live in Stevenson Ranch, Bryan Jenkins, ABC 7, Eyewitness News. Back to you.

CHILDREN (CHANTING): Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Louder! Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Save the tree. Louder!

JOHN QUIGLEY: You’ve already heard that what they’ve done is they brought in someone who was unqualified for the job, has begun to dig and cut the roots of the tree, which will ultimately kill the tree, in a manner that all arborists agree is unskillful and unwarranted, with heavy machinery versus hand tools.

So right now, we’re looking into all manner of recourse to stop what’s happening this afternoon. That’s all I’m going to say right now.

REPORTER: John, what were you told on the phone this morning?

JOHN QUIGLEY: I was told on the phone that they were moving some rocks on the surface, and now I understand that they’re digging— they’re basically boxing the roots of the tree right now. They’re digging the trenches to box the roots.

[HEAVY MACHINERY WHIRRING]

When I first got in the tree, it was pretty brown and a lot of branches had no leaves at all. And some people would say, oh, the tree’s dead anyway, or it’s dying or parts of it are dead. I watched how the water, how long it took for the water to go up through the trunk, to the highest leaves. It started, branches around me, I would start to see some green.

And then the crown of the tree, for a long time, didn’t have any green. And then, the final week I was there, it really started to come out in those. And since I’ve come down, it’s come out even more. But the first buds and stuff. And see, the tree-moving company knows that to move the tree right now, is sure death.

Any slim chance of survival would be nullified by moving it right now because it’s in full bloom. And we’ve heard through the grapevine that they’re trying to postpone it for as long as six months. But, who knows? I mean, you hear all kinds of things. But the one thing that I know is it’s not going to end up a stump. So for me, that gives me a little— some sense of satisfaction. And it still has a chance of staying where it is.

The big thing I was upset with today is the fact that they would come in on a Sunday and start doing this work. [PROPELLER PLANE WHIZZING OVERHEAD] They were rushing it. And to do it on a Sunday, just felt like an added desecration of Old Glory here—

WOMAN: Right.

JOHN QUIGLEY: —and the way they did it. And so I was pretty upset about that, pretty angry. I’ve calmed down now. For the moment, there’s no threat because the damage that they did, it’s already done. We’ve got to leave that behind. I was assured by my crew, which is monitoring it, that the damage that’s been done is not a mortal wound to Old Glory. It’s not like it’s over, by any means.

Here you go. Thank you for coming.

WOMAN: Hold on you guys. Don’t—

CHILD: Can you take a picture?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Sure. Sure, sure, sure.

WOMAN: Yo, let’s move this chair up.

JOHN QUIGLEY: Here you go, little one.

WOMAN: Gracias. [SPEAKS SPANISH]

JOHN QUIGLEY: All right, thank you for coming.

WOMAN: Thank you so much.

MAN: Hello.

WOMAN: She wants a picture with you.

MAN: Can I have a picture with you?

JOHN QUIGLEY: Okay. Okay. Can I pick her up?

I was always raised to do things. That the idea of a democracy was that everyone was working for the common good. It’s not just about— I mean, you have freedom, but it’s freedom that serves the common good.

I come from a political family that was very progressive. And my dad, he’s a retired admiral in the Navy. And yet, he’s very progressive in his politics, as much I think as he can be, and have worked in the Pentagon for almost 20 years.

And my uncles were like in Congress, in the Senate, and that sort of thing. My family was greatly affected by the presidential campaign in 1968. My uncle was a candidate, and he was the Peace candidate, and the one who really forced Johnson out of the race. And my dad was his— I think the financial manager on the campaign. And it took a toll on the family, but it imprinted this idealism.

And I come from Minnesota, and Hubert Humphrey was a close friend of our family. So we had ties to both Humphrey and McCarthy. When I was seven, we were at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. It was like a very early introduction into politics and upheaval, you know, revolution.

DONALD PETERSON: Mr. Chairman, most delegates to this convention do not know that thousands of young people are being beaten in the streets of Chicago.

REPORTER: Yes, yes, it's being used over there. It's being shot into the crowd. My god, [INAUDIBLE].

MAN: [SPEAKING AN UNIDENTIFIED LANGUAGE] Great Spirit.

Grandfather, I come here again in a good way, grandfather, in a humble way, and always in a pitiful way to [INAUDIBLE].

JOHN QUIGLEY: I was working with a Native group called the Nuxalk Nation and this is back in ‘95. I became disillusioned with the mainstream process because our forests up in the Northwest of the US were just being ravaged by this thing called the timber salvage rider, which was allowing them to go in and cut all these great stands of old-growth forests.

So I had heard about this forest action camp, and I went up there to get direct experience. And I met some young men from this Native group of a nation called the Nuxalk Nation. And the tales of the land that they came from were so magical, I eventually went up there to help them defend their forest. And I got trained in tree climbing and platforms and everything.

We were all just doing it for the love of the forest and the love of these people. And after we were in the tree for about a week, all the chiefs and the elders, they came out and they gave us a ceremony. They called us all eagles, and they gave me the name of [SAYS WORD IN NUXALK], which means "golden eagle."

We held that place for a month, which, at that time, was the longest that anyone had ever held in an area. And we eventually lost that watershed, but we saved vast areas, because it was a huge campaign.

And about five years later, a coalition of international groups finally signed a deal with all the logging companies, protecting the areas up there. But that was the first one, the first big action, and it got a lot of attention.

So going back into the tree, in a suburb of Santa Clarita, to me, it was something to go and do, and maybe do a good thing, save this tree and reconnect with nature. It was not— nothing that I thought would become a significant, a truly significant event in my life. It would be another story, and then it just became something much more.

[HAMMERING]

This climate of fear and this government, this administration we have right now, which is just preaching fear—they’re selling fear as a way to maintain control—is the biggest betrayal of the ideals of our country that I’ve seen in my lifetime.

[HAMMERING, MELODIC CHIME OF AN ICE CREAM TRUCK]

JOHN QUIGLEY: I’ve been out of the tree for about 13 months. We continued to oppose the moving of the tree for the entire time. And then on January 20, this year, the tree finally moved.

[MACHINERY WHIRRING AND RUMBLING]

This is the largest valley oak tree that’s ever been attempted to be moved.

It came in stages. First, they boxed two sides of the roots last spring, and they waited a few weeks, and then they boxed the other two sides. So it sat for about eight months with the four sides of its roots boxed. And then, over the holidays, just before the holidays, they started to cut under it.

And they were gradually lifting it off the ground with these hydraulic jacks and building a trailer. And that took about three weeks. And then the day that they moved it, it took about two to three hours to actually haul it down the street.

[TRUCKS RUMBLING]

There were all these people from the community, many of whom I hadn't seen in a year, who came out. And there was this— I think everyone alternated between "It's amazing that this is possible" and "This is disgusting." Like this is not what we should be doing with this tree.

And there was a newspaper here. The headline in the little box on the front page said, "In all its glory." And I was like— I could show them pictures of when this tree was in full bloom. And that was all its glory. And I just thought, what a distorted view we have now of our hand and how it interacts with nature.

[TRUCK RUMBLING]

I mean, they spent over a million dollars to move this tree. That’s money that could have gone to kids or to homeless or— all because they were just so stubborn and they just couldn’t give in to the community.

[TRUCK RUMBLING, BRAKING]

It’s life in the balance, right now; this strange compromise. They didn’t cut it down, but then they uprooted it and hauled it down the street. It’s really a theater of the absurd.

[TRUCKS RUMBLING]

I mean, this is one of the last great heritage trees in this whole area.

[TRUCK RUMBLING]

And so, if they keep it alive, it will be an attraction. People still drive. Since we’ve been here today, people have been stopping by to see the tree, the famous tree, and all that. And see, had they had that mentality from the beginning, they would have just designed around the tree in its natural birthplace, and it could have been a great symbol. It would have been smart business.

[TRUCK RUMBLING, BEEPING]

Their mindset is all about assets and liabilities. The mentality a year ago was that they were going to just cut it for firewood. And now, they had insured it for $10 million, and they were guarding it, because it’s a famous tree.

[TRUCK RUMBLING]

Again, this tree, over the years, is going to be a lot more beneficial to them alive than it will be dead.

And now, I feel a responsibility to take the power. It’s really empowered me to take this and to continue on and to try to work on issues like this up in this area, but also to inspire people in other ways, to get off their couches and do something. Not just talk about it, but actually go out and put yourself on the line. Because I think if more of us did that, we’d be in a much stronger democracy.

[WIND BLOWING, MUFFLED CONVERSATION]

[MUSIC: "THE OLD GLORY" BY LITO SOLANO]

Funding

Lead support is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; the Zell Family Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; R. H. Defares; Gael Neeson, Edlis Neeson Foundation; Cari and Michael Sacks; Karyn and Bill Silverstein; and Anonymous.

Major support is provided by Julie and Larry Bernstein, Charlotte Feng Ford, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, and by Charlotte Cramer Wagner and Herbert S. Wagner III of the Wagner Foundation.

Generous support is provided by Andrew Kreps Gallery, Diana Billes, Lois and Steve Eisen and The Eisen Family Foundation, Marilyn and Larry Fields, Glenstone Foundation, Susan D. Goodman and Rodney Lubeznik, Ashlee Jacob, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Diane Kahan, Anne L. Kaplan, kaufmann repetto, Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund, Rennie Collection, Mary Kay Touhy, and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

This exhibition is supported by the Women Artists Initiative, a philanthropic commitment to further equity across gender lines and promote the work and ideas of women artists.

At the Hammer Museum, this exhibition is made possible by lead funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Logo with text 'Henry Luce Foundation'

Events

Opening Talk: Andrea Bowers

Andrea Bowers at work

Andrea Bowers

Photo: Julie Sadowsky
  • Tickets

Join a lively discussion celebrating the opening of Andrea Bowers’s mid-career survey at the MCA. Bowers is known for her intimate collaborations with environmental and social justice activists that inspire her artwork. Her research-based practice encourages viewers to visualize the impactful efforts and stories of these advocates for immigration, worker’s rights, environmental justice, and women’s rights. In this conversation, Bowers discusses her work as an artist, how her work has developed through the teachings of other artists and activists, and the questions she asks as she builds work out of these encounters.