Published March 9, 2018
SALT LAKE CITY – House Joint Resolution 001 (H.J.R. 1) in the Utah Legislature passed the State senate today by a vote of 20 in favor and 6 opposed to this resolution. Tribes and Native Americans are concerned because the 1906 Antiquities Act that honors Native American history and was used to designate the Bears Ears National Monument.
With the measure’s passage Thursday, the public has 10 days or fewer to ask Gov. Gary Herbert to veto H.J.R.1., a non-binding request to U.S. Congress to exempt Utah from the Antiquities Act. Utah State Rep. Carl R. Albrecht (R-District 70) and State Sen. David P. Hinkins (R-District 27) are co-sponsors of this joint resolution, which asks Congress to amend the Antiquities Act.
This action would prevent presidential protection of threatened objects of “historic and scientific interest,” leaving U.S. Congress as the only entity capable of passing durable conservation actions across federal public lands. Congress has shown itself incapable of acting in a timely manner in recent years, even on its highest priorities that have broad consensus among the public. The Antiquities Act was designed to be used in cases like Bears Ears, and many local tribal governments in Utah have asked for its retention as a valuable tool to advance tribal sovereignty through the government to government relationship between the Executive Branch and Tribes.
“HJR 1 should not be used as a weapon against Tribes whose rich heritage in Utah is often dismissed as less important than mineral extraction, grazing, or recreation by Utah elected officials. The lack of involvement of Tribes in the creation of this bill is reason enough to vote it down. Please honor Tribes and work with us,” stated Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents the Utah Navajo communities of Mexican Water, To’likan, Teec Nos Pos, Aneth and Red Mesa.
Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Utah Navajo Commission, Navajo Chapter Houses, and Tribes across the United States are watching the actions of the Utah legislature.
Willie Grayeyes, Board Chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah stated, “These legislative actions are excluding the voices of Native American citizens, who are simply asking to be heard in decision-making that greatly affects our past and our future. Governor Herbert, please do not sign this resolution or take this action against Utah’s Tribes.”
The Utah Navajo Commission, along with Navajo Nation Chapters, including Oljato, Rock Point, Shonto, Teec Nos Pos and Tolikan Chapters, oppose HJR 1. For a complete packet of resolutions, check our website under “News” or email firstname.lastname@example.org.