Tribal Leaders Eager to Show Secretary Unmatched Cultural Landscape and Urgent Need for a Bears Ears National Monument
Published April 21, 2016
BEARS EARS, UTAH – Leaders of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition welcomed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s commitment to visit the Bears Ears region and hear about its importance to Tribal Nations and local citizens. Earlier today, Secretary Jewell delivered a major conservation speech at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. During the speech she outlined a conservation agenda for the next century that is more inclusive of the broad spectrum of American citizens and one that advances protections for important cultural and natural lands. Jewell listed Bears Ears among the places she intends to visit and noted the long history of efforts to conserve the area.
“It is not possible to fully appreciate the importance of the Bears Ears region to Native Americans without seeing the sites that our ancestors walked, talking with Tribal members about their connections to the land and wildlife and experiencing the beauty of the region firsthand,” said Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, Councilwoman of Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. “We are excited that Secretary Jewell will be able to experience the Bears Ears cultural landscape.”
“By visiting the Bears Ears region, Secretary Jewell will be able to see why it is so important to our people. Unfortunately, she will also see evidence of the looting and vandalism that our ancestral sites are facing and the urgent need to protect the Bears Ears region as a National Monument,” said Alfred Lomahquahu, Hopi Vice Chairman and Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.
An unprecedented coalition of Tribal governments from the Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray have joined together to seek a Bears Ears National Monument that protects archaeological and cultural resources; preserves historic sites, items of spiritual significance and ongoing cultural activities; protects native fish, wildlife and plants; provides access for hunting, ceremonies, fuel wood and herb collection; preserves wilderness and scenic values and allows for Tribal collaborative management of the area. Responding to six years worth of grassroots legwork, Tribes have coalesced around their aboriginal lands facing ongoing looting, vandalism and destruction of cultural and sacred sites. The Bears Ears coalition has presented a detailed proposal for a National Monument for the area to President Obama.
“Protecting the Bears Ears as a National Monument is supported by all of the Tribal governments in the region, local grassroots Navajo and Ute people and the vast majority of the citizens of Utah. We are looking forward to Secretary Jewell’s visit and hope President Obama will act swiftly to protect the Bears Ears as a National Monument,” said Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation Vice President.
“Protecting Bears Ears was unanimously supported by the Navajo Nation Council and it has overwhelming support from grassroots Navajo people and Navajo Chapters in Utah,” said Davis Filfred, Navajo Nation Council Delegate (Mexican Water, Aneth, Teecnospos, Tółikan, Red Mesa).
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