Published October 28, 2017
MONUMENT VALLEY, UTAH – On Friday, the unofficial word came that President Donald Trump will drastically reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monumental on a visit he plans to make to the state of Utah during the first part of December. The White House press office confirmed Trump will travel to Utah, but would not disclose the details of the national monument reduction.
This came after a meeting earlier Friday, the president held with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who turned in his recommendations on national monument designations in the summer. Zinke’s recommendations have not been public. However, later on Friday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Trump called him to say he was going to reduce the size of the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments
In response to the announcement of the president’s planned visit, the American Indian community in San Juan County invites Trump to come to Monument Valley, Utah, to meet with and hear from the local people. The local community there said Friday’s announcement by Senator Hatch that President Trump plans to reduce Bears Ears National Monument is a sign of great disrespect to local American Indians, who have worked in good faith with the U.S. government to establish, support, and maintain Bears Ears National Monument.
“Secretary Zinke refused to meet with the Native American community in San Juan County, and locals cannot recall a single time in Senator Hatch’s 42-year career when he has ever visited our reservations in San Juan County. Senator Hatch does not represent grassroots low-income people. Instead of further agitating our community along racial lines, we ask President Trump to stop the harm he is causing. Please leave all protections in place,” stated Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB) Chairman Willie Grayeyes.
American Indians living in San Juan County, Utah maintain their ancestors have lived in and around Bears Ears for millennia, and they still rely on Bears Ears to this day.
“Bears Ears holds our prayers, medicine, and sacred grounds. Bears Ears National Monument honors Native Americans and provides a path for healing. President Trump should leave it alone and respect our people,” UDB Board Member and Spiritual Advisor Jonah Yellowman.
UDB officials said they will continue to work tirelessly with the five sovereign tribal nations of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to ensure that Native American voices are honored and Bears Ears National Monument remains duly protected.