DOI Spills Ink on Why to Shrink Bears Ears National Monument: OIL

Published March 3, 2018

NEW YORK – On Friday, the New York Times released an article Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show. Throughout the article, it was made apparent that the decision to reduce Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) came before President Trump’s executive order to review national monuments throughout the U.S.  This seems to explain why the nearly 2 million citizen comments sent to Secretary Zinke voicing support for BENM during the review landed on deaf ears.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Trahant photo.

The Bears Ears region is a sacred landscape where Native Americans practice their l ong held cultural and spiritual rights as indigenous people.  Throughout the monument review process, the public, Tribes, and thousands of local Native Americans asked Secretary Zinke and President Trump to do the right thing and uphold the promises made in the Bears Ears National Monument declaration signed on December 28, 2016.

Mark Maryboy, Utah Diné Bikéyah Board Member stated, “Bears Ears National Monument encompasses many, many years of storytelling encompassing our religions and cultures.  Oil and gas development is very devastating to Native American people due to pollution and the fact that the jobs and tax revenues rarely go to our people. Navajo teachings say when you take oil or uranium from the ground, it comes with a lot of toxic materials that are released into the land and into the air. Our teachings are not derived from the scientific nature of the material, it’s always been taught that you do not take things from the ground without doing the proper ceremony or knowing the spiritual names of those materials. This has happened without the permission of the Navajo deities.”

“As we can see from these letters, the reassurances from Utah politicians do not match their actions. They say that rescinding and replacing Bears Ears is not about oil and gas or uranium, and that a National Monument will harm, rather than enhance, our lives and cultures. Hundreds of our people are dying from uranium poisoning, the Aneth oil fields have devastated the land and human health here in the poverty stricken southern half of San Juan County. Why are human lives and pristine landscapes not honored as respected by Utah leaders?  What will it take for them to hear our voice?” asks, Willie Grayeyes, Board Chairman for Utah Diné Bikéyah.

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