Bears Ears national monument

Courtesy of Tim Peterson

Bears Ears, the twin buttes that are the centerpiece of a region that's sacred to several tribes and is now a national monument.

Bears Ears: What a National Monument Designation Means

Bureau of Land Management spells out national monument dos and don’ts, as confusion swirls over Bears Ears

As Bears Ears National Monument undergoes a U.S. Department of the Interior review, Native Americans buffeted by opposing views are confused over whether they can conduct ceremony, hunt, gather wood or undertake other activity in this vast area of ancestral land. Op-ed articles, videos, public meetings, and discussions among politicians, bureaucrats and area residents have fueled the uncertainty about what can or cannot be done within the boundaries of a national monument.

Though President Barack Obama’s monument proclamation calls for greater protections of sacred and cultural sites, much of the current recreational, energy extraction and tribal activity remains, according to the Montecello Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The deadline for submitting public comment for Bears Ears is before this Friday, May 28, according to the Interior Department. Members of the public can post a comment at Regulations.gov.

Under the proclamation, tribal members still retain the right to woodcutting, as well as gathering medicinal plants and other vegetation. Grazing permits and leases are also still being administered. Hunting, fishing and camping are also still allowed, according to a BLM Visitor Information Fact Sheet. The BLM has also created a video in Navajo discussing how to apply for a permit and detailing which local areas are suitable for woodcutting.

Oil, mineral leases and mining claims also still exist as they did before the designation. Only new leases, claims or energy exploratory activities are now prohibited. And while ATV use is currently permitted, trails or roads could change with a new management plan, which requires public input, according to BLM’s fact sheet. Nevertheless, confusion persists.

“If the area becomes a national monument, we’ll be limited,” said Susie Johnson Philemon, a Utah Navajo who appears in one of several anti-monument videos produced by the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based, conservative, public policy think tank.

Such misconceptions have been fueled by propaganda insinuating that a national monument designation strips away certain rights, and by remarks by such people as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who said during a recent tour of Bears Ears by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that activities would be severely curtailed.

Part of the confusion may lie in what the federal designation means. When Obama signed the monument proclamation in December 2016, the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service each managed their respective sections of the 1.35 million–acre area. This continues to be the case under the new designation. The secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture and Interior also are to “provide access by members of Indian tribes for traditional cultural and customary uses,” according to the policy.

Earlier this year the five tribes who had taken their monument proposal to Obama appointed an advisory commission following the proclamation to “provide guidance and recommendations on the development and implementation of management plans and on management of the monument.”

Public hearings for a new BLM resource management plan and Bears Ears have been placed on hold until Interior completes its review, according to the agency. But even Zinke emphasized that the land belongs to the people, no matter what its designation.

“It is public land,” said Zinke, who will make a recommendation to President Donald Trump by June 10 on whether to rescind the monument, scale it back or leave it as is. “It was public land before the monument, it will be public land after the monument.”

Comments
  • Peiffer V.

    I FIND IT HARD TO SEE ALL THE WRONGS THIS COUNTRY HAS DONE FOR CENTURIES AGAINST NATIVE AMERICANS. THEIR NATIVE ANCESTRIAL LAND WAS STOLEN FROM THEM AND STILL NOW THEY WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. THEY HAVE MORE RIGHTS TO THEIR NATIVE LAND THEN THE GOVERNMENT THINKS. TO THE GOVERNOR AND LAND BUREAU OF UTAH. LISTEN BEFORE THE FIRST WHITE MAN STEPPED ON THAT STATES LAND. NATIVE AMERICANS WERE SETTLED ALREADY ON IT. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO STOP AND SAY””CONTINUING TO TAKE FROM THEM IS WRONG. AND SO THE STEALING STOPS HERE TODAY AND NOW””” MANY WHITE SETTLERS FEEL THE SAME. “”AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES THE GOVERNMENT. CONTINUE TO DO WRONG AGAINST ALL TRIBES…….FOR ME I AM PROUD TO UNDERSTAND WHY MY GRANDMOTHER FELT LOVE THE TRIBE WHO SAVED MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER AND MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER. THE CHIEF DIDNT HAVE TO BUT HE SAVED THEM FROM SEVERE ABUSE OF ANOTHER TRIBE “””””. I. AM GOING TO STAND FOR THE TRIBES RIGHTS TO THAT LAND. AND WILL CONTINUE TO STAND NEXT TO THEM FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES….

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Hi,
I thought you might find this interesting:
Bears Ears: What a National Monument Designation Means

URL: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/sacred-places/bears-ears-what-monument-designation-means/