On April 26th, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of over two dozen national monuments designated since 1996. This is the first time ever that a President has made such a move. It represents a brazen and blatant attempt to allow special interests like the coal, oil and gas, mining, and logging industries to have access to our most iconic lands.
The Antiquities Act, which enables the President to declare national monuments, was signed into law in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect places of natural, cultural, and historical importance. Since its inception, the Act has enjoyed not only bipartisan support but the overwhelming support of the American people who support protections for these landscapes and places.
Now, protections for monuments like the Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Giant Sequoia, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and the most recently designated Bears Ears National Monument are under immediate threat.
In response, LDF grantee Utah Dine Bikeyah (UDB) and its partners are fighting back to ensure that the Administration’s “review” does not undermine this sacred monument. Bears Ears National Monument is a 1.35-million-acre cultural landscape in southeast Utah considered sacred by numerous regional Tribes. Five Tribes—the Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah Ouray Ute, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni—all share contemporary and ancestral ties to the Bears Ears region. These five sovereign tribal governments have allied to form the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, with which UDB is working closely to protect this historic region. For Native people from the Four Corners region, Bears Ears is a sacred landscape where the spirits of the ancestors still dwell. Certain medicinal plants grow only in this area, and important ceremonies are performed here.
The Trump Administration has ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a 45-day review of Bears Ears and has established a deadline of May 26th for the public to weigh in.
We have a collective duty to act on Bears Ears. An attack on any of our national monuments is an attack on each of us and our natural and cultural heritage. The unprecedented and egregious attack on our national monuments requires immediate action by us all.