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Patagonia celebrates Bears Ears National Monument with 360-degree interactive films

Why it matters to you

National Monuments are meant to protect cultural landmarks for generations to come -- and VR will bring Bears Ears to a broader audience.

For years, Patagonia worked to protect natural land across the United States. Since 2013, it’s mainly focused on Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and now, its latest initiative is a collection of interactive 360-degree films which highlight the cultural and recreational importance of this threatened region.

This is Bears Ears National Monument is powered by Google’s 360 technology. While anyone has the ability to view it through a web browser, the website is best experienced through a smartphone using a virtual reality headset like Google Cardboard. Through ten short films, users are able to look around and feel immersed as they listen to stories from Native American tribal leaders and outdoor athletes. The experience ends with a call-to-action to the new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, to stand up for public lands.

“Bears Ears National Monument is a sacred home for Native Americans, a world-class location for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, and a mecca for archaeologists,” said Patagonia’s chief executive officer Rose Marcario in the press release. “But it is also a target for looters, mining, and energy companies and elected officials who want to privatize and develop the nation’s public lands. It is our hope that this film will help to defend this national monument by bringing it to life and spurring action to protect this American treasure.”

Anyone who visits the website has the ability to choose how they want to experience it by selecting either a cultural or sports aspect in whichever order they like. During some of the content, viewers explore walls of petroglyphs as they simultaneously learn from a Hopi archaeologist. Additionally, Navajo Elder Willie Grey Eyes tells stories of his ancestors as he journeys through a narrow canyon. For the adventurous, one video even has viewers climbing the North Six Shooter tower with Tommy Caldwell.

More: Two brothers are obsessively filming every national park, with spectacular results

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an open letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert earlier this year and in it, he demanded Herbert to stand up for public lands. After doing the opposite and signing a document asking President Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, Patagonia responded by boycotting Outdoor Retailer — a $40 million industry trade show — as long as it was in Utah. Days later, the Outdoor Industry Association followed and is now searching for a new home for the show.