By Admin on April 2017
WINDOW ROCK – Today President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to consult local governments and tribes in reviewing national monuments created by the Antiquities Act since Jan.1, 1996, that are greater than 100,000 acres.
Secretary Zinke’s two-part review will first be directed toward the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. The secretary has been directed to report back to the president on suggested legislative or executive action within 120 days.
For decades, tribal nations have fought to protect the cultural and spiritual significance that is encompassed within the area of the Bears Ears.
“Tribal nations have always advocated for a voice in the management of the area because of its great cultural and historical value. Inherent in the Bears Ears National Monument designation lies tribal responsibility in guiding management of the area,” President Begaye said. “It affords us the right to protect and preserve the sanctity of the land from which we harvest traditional medicines, and that we hold in reverence as the birthplace of our ancestors.”
President Begaye emphasized that Bears Ears National Monument designation is a victory on behalf of tribal nations and not for any particular presidential administration.
“This has been a collective effort for tribal nations which has gone back into many presidential administrations. It was only after heavy consultation from tribal nations that the Obama Administration moved on the designation,” he said. “This designation supports tribal sovereignty. We are asking President Trump and Secretary Zinke, in their review of the designations, to uphold tribal sovereignty as mandated through our treaties with the federal government.”
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President of the United States to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value to be national monuments by designating the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
Bears Ears National Monument was designated by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016 pursuant to his authority under the Antiquities Act. The area encompassed by the monument has been home to Native peoples, including the Navajo people, since time immemorial.
Monument management is to be guided in part by a Bears Ears Commission made up of commissioners from five tribes whose members continue to use the Monument for cultural and religious purposes to this day: Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Uintah and Ouray Ute, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
Vice President Jonathan Nez said that the Navajo Nation has stood in solidarity with tribes who supported the Bears Ears National Monument.
“We have stood together to preserve this sacred area that has protected our people since time immemorial,” Vice President Nez said. “We will continue to work together to fight for the protection of Bears Ears.”
“This iconic landmark protected our Navajo ancestors from the incursion of property theft and forced removal by the Spaniards and Americans. It is our time to protect these lands that shielded our tribes from genocide,” he added.
Both President Begaye and Vice President Nez stated that reconsidering the national monument designation at any level that will affect the co-management role of the Bears Ears Commission is unacceptable.