Photo from Twitter
Published March 10, 2018
The good old boys club appeared to be working in the Utah legislature on Monday when the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee passed H.B. 481 by a 9-2 vote to rename the 631-mile Utah National Parks Highway to the Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.
Utah Rep. Mike Noel (Republican) authored H.B. 481 as a gesture of appreciation to Trump for significantly downsizing two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Apparently, Rep. Noel renaming a highway was a means to say thank you to Trump for reducing the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and is sacred to American Indians where many local tribal citizens still practice their traditional indigenous ceremonies.
Several years before President Obama designated Bears Ears a national monument, five tribal nations, the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Tribe, formed a Coalition that worked to gain the presidential designation President Obama gave it in December 2016.
Of course, Trump has worked hard to unravel and undo anything President Obama did while he was in office. On December 4, 2017, Trump flew to Utah to revoke and replace the Bears Ears Monument. The vast majority of American Indians opposed Trump’s action. That same day, these same five tribal nations, filed a federal complaint to stop the nonsense. The case is still be litigated.
Last week, the New York Times released an article “Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show.” Typically, land grabs are about something somebody wants. In this case, the good old boys club of Utah wanted their oil lobbyists to get the land for money.
After Monday’s Utah house committee’s vote, the Navajo Nation proclaimed its strong opposition to the renaming of the highway for Trump.
“The Navajo Nation firmly opposes this bill,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “President Trump and Utah lawmakers are trying to reduce the size of Bears Ears, a national monument that protects land that is sacred to the Navajo people. To name a highway after Trump is like putting salt into an open wound.”
Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez called the proposed naming after Trump an insult and urged Utah lawmakers to oppose the legislation.
On Wednesday, Rep. Noel pulled his bill back. The bill to rename the highway for Trump went virtually nowhere. Noel’s reason was he discovered the bill was too controversial. In opposition to the bill were Democrats in the Utah House and Senate. One Democratic state senator suggested wanted to amend the bill to also name a “Stormy Daniels Rampway,” in reference to one of Trump’s controversies that have plagued presidency. Stormy Daniels is the stage name for the adult-film actress who was purportedly paid $130,000 hush money to never discuss the alleged affair she had with Trump years ago.
Given the Trump administration has been wrought with historic corruption, it is too premature to name anything after Donald Trump as a means of honor, especially a highway that winds through Indian Country.
Levi Rickert, a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is publisher and editor of Native News Online.