Navajo Nation Will Defend Bears Ears

The Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah (Photo by Josh Ewing/Bears Ears Coalition)

On Dec. 4, President Trump signed a proclamation to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. The decision was met with widespread opposition from Navajo leadership.

“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue. The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,” Navajo Nation President Begaye said. “The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”

“Bears Ears National Monument is not just for Native Americans but for all Americans,” Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “This is a sad day for indigenous people and for America. However, we are resilient and refuse to allow President Trump’s unlawful decision to discourage us. We will continue to fight in honor of our ancestral warriors who fought for our way of life, for our culture and for our land too.”

The Monument was declared by President Obama on Dec. 28, 2016, pursuant to his authority under the Antiquities Act.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, the Nation has worked to establish the Monument and ensure that management is guided in part by the Commission, created by the original proclamation and made up of the Hopi, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni Tribes.

The Navajo Nation along with the four other tribes represented on the Commission, a coalition of nonprofits and citizen groups, will collectively be filing a lawsuit against the administration.