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Before he left office, President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears in Utah a National Monument to protect 1.3 million acres that contain many sites significant to several tribes. Now, President Trump is calling for a review of that decision and dozens of other monument designations since 1996. That could open the door for more oil drilling, mining and other development in those places. Interior Department Sec. Ryan Zinke made his first visit to Bears Ears as a decision on the monument status looms. Is there a precedent for stripping a National Monument designation? What would that mean for the coalition of tribes that worked to ensure the area’s protection?
Natalie Landreth (Chickasaw Nation) – senior staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund
Ethel Branch (Navajo) – Attorney General of the Navajo Nation
Break music: Buc Wild – Teen Boy’s Southern Straight (song) Gathering Of Nations Powwow (artist) A Spirit’s Dance (album)
Full interview with Ryan Benally (Navajo) – vice president of Stewards of San Juan County
John Van Horn says
Haven’t we taken enough from the “‘First AmerIcans’?
I believe the the national monument bears ears should indefinatly be left alone. It’s a national monument not only for local visitors also visitors around the world that have not been able to foresee the beauty of it’s nature or even know of it’s location as a historic scenery to enjoy. Let alone the drilling will only disturb the peace of it’s nature and history. I just read upon this myself!
Ryan Benally says
Unfortunately, the ” Coalition of Tribes” is nothing more that tribe politicians being the puppets for environmentalist organizations of SUWA, Grand Canyon Trust, and Sierra Club and the likes of Charles Wilkinson who originally tried to lock up our beautiful lands because of there nutty ideology.
Native Americans living within proximity of the Bears Ears Buttes themselves have always thought of the area as Sacred in terms of how we utilized the lands. for GENERATIONS we understood that we were under NO THREAT of Oil extractions/drilling or any type of mining developments for the Bears Ears area.
Why? because the area flourished without the need to of a National Monument!
We also understood the past attempt by extremely aggressive outside special interest groups to make the area restricted by calling it “Red Rock Wilderness.” They tried before, they were unsuccessful, this time they pushed Natives as a front and it caught the attention of President Obama.
All the while we as local Natives of the area, that USE the areas for wood gather, gathering of medicinal plants and herbs, hunting… we’re always against a national monument designation.
Now we fight to undo this mess of a Bears Ears National Monument, FULLY KNOWING there are no feasible attempts to extract energy reserves in the are because there simply isn’t any. Who says??? well the very Utah Division of Oil & Gas would say so. Grand Canyon Trust and environmentalist organization would say so as well.
Native American tribes were promised, under the Monument proclamation, to have the same authority as the DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, itself in MANAGING this monument. That was the WHOLE REASON TRIBE EVEN WERE INVOLVED TO BEGIN WITH
Did that happen? The Answer is NO! All the tribal governments have, as we speak, is an embarrassingly low key Advisory Committee (Bears Ears Commission) entity that can do nothing more than make “Recommendations” to the white BLM supervisors who actually run the monument itself.
I would Say NOTHING HAS CHANGE A BIT. Well, in this instance we as Natives are now just relegated to more BIA-like control, where as before we enjoyed the local ability to manage the lands through Local County means and Tribal Consultation agreements laid out since 2003.
Please help us in untangling this mess.
Please Help Us Rescind Bears Ears National Monument
Jack Lucero says
we are loosing enough ground now.we don’t need to loose more Keep things as they are.
MARILYNN L. SMITH says
PLEASE LEAVE OUR NATIONAL PARKS ALONE. WE DON’T NEED OIL WELLS TO FILL THE REPUBLICANS POCKETS. WE WANT OUR BEAUTIFUL PARKS LEFT THE WAY THEY ARE. TRUMP DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT HIMSELF AND LETTING HIS COHORTS GET RICH.
Garon Coriz MD says
Bears Ears National Monument provides the framework to protect the natural and cultural treasures in the area. 150,000 visitors per year are already coming to the region, and this will only increase. Making it a monument and developing a more comprehensive management plan through it will provide better protections than what is currently offered by the BLM and US Forest Service. 80% of the archaeological sites have been destroyed under their watch. There was a need for a change and stepping up of protections, and the monument provides that. Oil might not be as big a consideration (unless they want to frack), but additional threats beyond vandalism are potash and further uranium mining.
The Inter-tribal coalition will have a say in the management of the monument, but with other monuments, there is not one single manager. The BLM, US Forest Service, and even the local government (county and state) will contribute to the management. There will be checks and balances in the management setup, and Native tribes will be a part of the process for the first time ever.
On a side note, to help illustrate the stance by the monument opposition, I would like to mention that Wendy Black, Treasurer of Stewards of San Juan, stated the following: “I’m so sick of being punished for what u think whites did to you. It was a war. Whites won.” The campaign against Native American tribal interests and sovereignty by the Stewards of San Juan is just a continuation of the long history of racism and marginalization of Native American tribes in San Juan County. They have intimate ties with the right-wing think-tank/ad firm called the Sutherland Institute that gets a millions of dollars from dark money sources tied to the Koch Brothers.
Linda Lee says
Mr. Coriz, You stated…”through it will provide better protections than what is currently offered by the BLM and US Forest Service. 80% of the archaeological sites have been destroyed under their watch. ” Could you please provide the sources of your claim. I would be very interested to read the reports and or studies that say 80% of the archaeological sites in the Bears Ears Area
Scott Borg says
Eric Benally has things backwards and upside down. The monument will protect the Bear’s Ears area and protect access for Native Americans to use the area for hunting, gathering of plants for traditional and medicinal purposes, and wood gathering. Existing uses are not disturbed and no private land is taken. Overwhelmingly, the Navajo people support the monument, and unanimously the tribes in the region do, too. I think Mr. Benally and his County Commissioner mother, Rebecca, are collaborators of the Sutherland Institute and the Sage Brush Rebellion non-Indians. They are in league with many anti-Indians locals in San Juan County. Their plaintive cries of being “local” are merely a propaganda tool, as are their accusations against environmental groups and outdoor enthusiasts. The majority of Navajo people want the area preserved, not opened to destructive mining and petroleum production..