If These Woods Could Talk They’d Call Our Ancestors’ Names

If these woods could talk they would tell us stories that history has hidden from us. Stories of ancestral community, joy, revolt, terror, and escape. The woods have always been a part of our story.

If These Woods Could Talk They’d Call Our Ancestors’ Names
Via Wikimedia Commons

Historically the woods were sacred grounds for our ancestors. It was the woods that concealed Harriet Tubman on her numerous escapes to freedom. After long days toiling the soil, the woods is where enslaved Africans would gather in secret to pray, dance, and plan revolts.

Many of us grew up hearing “bad things happen in the woods.” This heavily impacted how we engage with nature. The Equal Justice Initiative has documented over 4400 racial terror lynchings in America. But our history with the woods doesn’t have to be centered in violence and fear.

It’s time we reclaim the woods as sacred land that’s held our ancestors in so many ways.  

We need this healing, and our ancestors do, too.

Studies have shown that roughly 11.7% of annual national forest goers are people of color. Of that, only 1% of visitors are Black.  Yet slowly many groups are beginning to reclaim our joy in the woods.  Groups like Black Girls Trekkin and Hikelution are finding joy, peace, and revolution and inviting us to do the same.

But you can also find ways to enjoy the woods in your solitude.

More influencers like @blackforager and @blk.people.outside are on a mission to reintroduce our community to the joys within nature, many of which can be found in the woods.

Being in nature is crucial for our spiritual wellness. How can spending time outside reconnect you to your ancestors?

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