Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.
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The recent desecration at Prairie Park is a deeply troubling but foreseeable continuation of a process of removal that began more than 150 years ago.
Lawrence sits on land that was 90% prairie prior to 1854. That native prairie ecosystem, including the plants, buffalo, and other inhabitants were not here by accident. They were here because they were stewarded by Native people — especially through use of fire and other deliberate stewardship practices. Native prairie would not exist without Native people.
The World Bank recognizes Indigenous people as stewards of 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity. For future restoration and stewardship efforts to succeed for the City of Lawrence, at Prairie Park and beyond, they should be done in direct consultation and collaboration with Native people. This includes the appropriate Tribal Nations, should they wish to engage, and Native-led organizations and institutions. This would ultimately be for the benefit of everyone and everything.
There are no native prairies without Native people.
— Brett Ramey (he/him), Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Lawrence
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