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‘They declared war on us today’

Tribes respond to Trump’s evisceration of Bears Ears National Monument
From Utah Diné Bikéyah

Elected officials from the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe hosted a press conference to respond to President Trump’s elimination of 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument. This action is an attack on Native American people, culture, history, and tribal sovereignty and may result in opening up 2 million acres to mining interests. The Tribes have already filed suit to challenge the President’s assault on our public lands. Utah Diné Bikéyah along with other organizations is also prepared to back the Tribes. Tribal Commission input was reduced on 94 percent of the land, while protection was removed from 85 percent of the land. This is an unprecedented executive action to undermine Bears Ears National Monument.

Speakers included: Jonathan Nez, Vice President, Navajo Nation, Harold Cuthair, Chairman, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Shaun Chapoose, Council Member, Ute Indian Tribe, Davis Filfred, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation, and Ethel B. Branch, Attorney General, Navajo Nation. 

Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee Member stated, “If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they are going to get. They declared war on us today. When it’s all said and done, just remember this didn’t have to happen. You (the Utah Delegation) could have honored our request to protect our heritage.”

Willie Grayeyes, Chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah said, “Bears Ears National Monument was created to safeguard the history of five Native American Tribes and to protect their ongoing cultural uses of the land. This is a landscape that has been mined, looted and desecrated for 150 years and today, President Trump opened 85 percent of the land back up to these abuses. The current administration is playing politics with our native heritage, without even having the courage to look us in the eye. We have no other choice but to seek legal remedies against this illegal action, to listen to our people, and to restore hope in a future that is inclusive of Native American rights and interests on the land.”

Ethel Branch, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation stated, “What we saw today is a tremendous affront to tribal sovereignty and it is a tremendous overreach of executive authority. We intend to hold the president accountable for his actions in federal court.”

People can support the legal defense of Bears Ears National Monument by donating to http://utahdinebikeyah.org/defend-bears-ears/
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