Native American Citizens, Community Groups Decry Treatment of Public Lands

Published March 21, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – On Tuesday afternoon, Native American community members and community groups gathered in front of the Bureau of Land Management State Office to demonstrate opposition to the Trump administration’s handling of public lands decisions in Utah.

“Oil and gas development, along with the legacy of uranium mining and milling, from the 1940s-1950s has been a curse for Native Americans in San Juan County. Cancer-related deaths associated with exposure to uranium and respiratory issues from exposure to fracking and flares in the Aneth oil fields are just some examples of how non-renewable energy development impacts the health of Native Americans in the county. It is obvious that the Trump Administration and the BLM are advancing the agenda of global corporations at the expense of Native people. As long-term steward of our public lands, they must listen to our voices as protectors and healers of Mother Earth by ending this type of natural resource exploitation. They should always consult with the sovereign Native American tribes on how to proceed,” said Mark Maryboy, a board member for Utah Diné Bikéyah.

Included in the groups’ criticism was the administration’s decision to lease parcels adjacent to Utah’s Bears Ears, Hovenweep, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments for oil and gas development. There is also sharp criticism of the agency for pushing forward on land use planning for Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante region while litigation is ongoing.

“The landscapes, history, and ecosystems of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante are interconnected and extend far beyond the boundaries of any designation. These landscapes hold thousands of years of invaluable cultural heritage that have already endured decades of looting and grave robbing. The leasing of land for oil, gas, and hard rock mining near these sites represents the next step in erasing this history for financial gain. As a member of the outdoor industry I stand behind the tribes of the intertribal coalition in protecting these areas,” said Len Necefer, Ph.D. Founder & CEO of Natives Outdoors.

“With every oil and gas lease and uranium and hard rock mine, the Trump administration’s motivations for rolling back protections and silencing the public voice in public lands decisions are laid bare. We have a moral obligation to leave future generations great natural places to learn from and enjoy. We’re committed to standing with Tribal Nations to preserve the full Bears Ears National Monument,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

“The sale of these leases is a wake-up call for action among the American public. It is too late to submit public comments opposing this oil and gas auction on BLM lands adjacent to Bears Ears National Monument, but it is not too late to submit comments during the scoping period for Shash Jaa and Indian Creek. We need everyone to get involved and ask that our American heritage and Native American sovereignty is respected and wait for the courts to determine the outcome of the litigation,” said Alastair Lee Bitsoi, communications coordinator for Utah Diné Bikéyah.

The public can submit comments on the scoping of the land use planning process before April 11th to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service at our website at: The public can also attend one of two BLM scoping meetings and submit public comments in person.

When and Where:

March 26th, 4:30 – 8:00pm                                      March 27th, 4:30 – 8:00p

San Juan High School                                             Bluff Community Center

311 N 100 E, Blanding, Utah                                  3rd E and Mulberry, Bluff, Utah

Patagonia SLC, a partner to Utah Diné Bikéyah, is also sponsoring a public comment event on March 26th, with the goal to “spotlight the process” of the BLM scoping period.

When and Where:

March 26th, 10 am – 8 pm

2292 E Highland Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84106

A crowd of more than 70 people turned out today, a demonstration of the strong support for public lands and national monuments in the state.


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