Utah Diné Bikéyah Response to Senator Hatch Comments

Willie Grayeyes

Published May 9, 2017 

SALT LAKE CITY —As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke travels to Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, Utah Diné Bikéyah has issued a statement highlighting its position on the monument and what is at stake today.

The statement comes in response to Senator Orrin Hatch’s remarks to the Deseret News, including his comment that Native Americans in Utah “may not understand” how a national monument designation restricts activities at Bears Ears. Sen. Hatch went on to state: “They would be severely restricted on what they could or could not do on the land,” Hatch said. “I can just tell you it will never cease until the far left gets their way in locking up all these lands in Utah, and we’re just not going to allow that.”

In response, Willie Grayeyes, Chairman of the Board of Utah Diné Bikéyah said: 

“It is offensive that some people think that Native Americans do not have a will of their own, or if they do take a position that their position is influenced by a non-native person. Native American people understand the special and sacred landscapes at Bears Ears National Monument better than anyone. We have stewarded these landscapes for thousands of years and we are very pleased with the language used in the proclamation that protects the things we care about and gives us a voice in our future. It is no surprise that Senator Hatch does not understand what he is working so hard to take away from us. If he would just listen to us he would stop fighting against what we stand for because it is not a threat to him or anyone else.”

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition website includes a list of activities that can and cannot take place in Bears Ears National Monument. That list can be found at bearsearscoalition.org/faq.  

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