Published December 5, 2017
WINDOW ROCK, NAVAJO NATION – Yesterday the Navajo Nation joined the Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe in filing a Complaint against the Trump administration for its actions revoking and replacing the Bears Ears National Monument. The five Tribes formed a Coalition that worked to have the Monument designated in 2016. President Obama’s decision to designate the Monument came after years of extensive outreach and coordination with the five Coalition Tribes.
In their Complaint the Tribes argue the actions taken by President Trump are a violation of the Antiquities Act and are unconstitutional. Under the Constitution, Congress has exclusive authority to make decisions regarding property belonging to the United States. Through the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated to the President the limited authority to designate National Monuments and retained to itself the power to revoke or modify National Monuments. The Proclamation signed by President Trump today is so extreme that it revokes and replaces Bears Ears and thereby violates the Antiquities Act and seizes authority that the Constitution vests solely in Congress. The Tribes argue this overreach by the President should be declared unlawful and be enjoined to prevent its implementation.
The President’s actions came after months of tribal leaders expressing opposition to his proposal to shrink the Monument. During these months some 685,000 comments were submitted by the public in support of the Monument. Despite this outpouring of support, the President, without adequate tribal consultation, dismantled the Monument and lifted protections from 85 percent of the Bears Ears landscape.
The Complaint filed today with the D.C. District Court alleges President Trump was without legal authority to take this action. The Navajo Nation has maintained its position to defend the entirety of the Monument, which it does today in the joint Complaint.
“Bears Ears has been home to Native peoples since time immemorial” stated Ethel Branch, Attorney for the Navajo Nation. “The actions taken by President Trump have exposed Bears Ears to devastating damage. President Trump states he consulted with Native peoples, but if that were true, the five Tribes would not be filing this Complaint. Our leadership has been unified in its opposition to any changes to the Monument and in its commitment to defending the Monument.”
Contribute to the Navajo Nation legal defense effort at https://www.gofundme.com/NavajoNationBearsEars.
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