Q&A With Tahlia Bear of Western Resource Advocates
A University of Colorado Boulder alumna, Tahlia Bear has spent 20 collective years in Boulder, working in conservation and science at institutions such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Geological Society of America. She is an enrolled member of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and is half Navajo and, today, works for Western Resource Advocates to engage Indigenous communities in the firm’s climate, decarbonization, and rivers and streams policy work. She’s also a program coordinator for the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network.
If you had an afternoon off in Boulder from your busy career and family life, what would you do?
I always want to go on a hike somewhere. I love Gregory Canyon. I think that's a beautiful hike that’s shaded in the beginning and the end, it has a nice view of the Continental Divide, and it’s a loop. I also like to hike Hogback Ridge Trail. It's a quick hike, good workout and there are typically not a lot of people there. The Boulder Book Store is one of my favorite places to grab a coffee and just walk around and see what new books are there. I like to see if there are any authors of books that I've read who are coming into town.
Are there activities you like to do outside in Boulder?
Biking down the Boulder Creek Path with my kids is always fun, with a stop at Scott Carpenter Park to play. Standup paddleboarding at the Boulder Reservoir is another favorite of mine. We can ride our bikes to the reservoir and rent paddleboards there. I do a lot of trail running and hiking.
Out of curiosity, when you’re out hiking, do you think about the Indigenous history and legacy of the land?
All the time. As an Indigenous person, it’s always on your mind. You always wonder, how did people survive here? But they did! I think there are opportunities to add more of that information at trailheads and hiking areas.
Where do you like to take visiting family or friends?
I like to drive all the way up Flagstaff to the Lost Gulch Overlook to take some pictures, then hike around Chautauqua if they’re able and then Chautauqua Dining Hall has really nice views. Or we like to do a picnic and go to the park there at Chautauqua. My kids love that park. They can run around in the woods along the side of it.
If it's in the summertime, I think the Boulder Farmers Market is really special. You can go there, grab coffee, get something to eat, walk around, see what everyone's selling. That's actually one of my favorite things to do in Boulder. I've heard that Liberty Puzzles has a tool has a factory tour now. I love puzzles and that sounds like something great to try. And the Celestial Seasonings tour just opened up again. That's something that we usually take people to, as well.
What about your favorite places to eat out?
I love to go to Chez Thuy, which is Vietnamese food. They have a really good lunch there. The pho is amazing, and they have Vietnamese salads that are really good, too. For my birthday this summer, my husband and I went to Bramble and Hare for the first time. I was very impressed with the food there. And we like a lot of international Asian food in our house, so Tiffins India Cafe is a place where we like to get takeout from and bring it home. I feel like that's a true hidden gem.
Any ideas for how people can learn and engage with Indigenous history or culture while they are here?
I think the City of Boulder is trying to do a lot more to engage with the tribes that have ancestral ties to the area, and there's a lot of tribal consultation on issues within the city. One place where you can find information is the Museum of Boulder. The Dairy Arts Center always has some type of Indigenous exhibit through their Creative Nations Art Collective program. They host the Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration with a crafts market and some dancing. Boulder also has a pretty strong history of having Indigenous NGOs, with the Native American Rights Fund and CU Law School’s American Indian Law Clinic.
How do you think people can visit Boulder responsibly?
What I like to do when I travel is to learn a little bit about the history of the place. You know, the United States is Indigenous land, so I always find myself learning a little bit about the history of the Indigenous people who lived there. And then I think one thing that people always forget is just to be safe in the outdoors. It does get hot in the summer, and you need sunscreen and a hat and lots of water. The same can go for winter so make sure that you take precautions when you're outdoors.