Tribes Set to Sue Trump after Monday’s Executive Order to Reduce National Monumentals

Sign in crowd of protestors on Saturday as thousands of American Indians and allies gathered at Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Published December 3, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – The Navajo Nation said Friday it will sue the Trump administration after the president releases his executive order that will reduce the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent.

The Navajo Nation is represented by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice; the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes are represented by the Native American Rights Fund; and Ute Indian Tribe is represented by Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP.

Documents leaked on Thursday were discussed during a press conference on Friday. Participating in the press conference were: U.S. Senator Tom Udall; Ethel Branch, Attorney General for the Navajo Nation; Natalie Landreth, Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund; Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia; and Collin O’Mara, President of the National Wildlife Federation.

According to participants, several American Indian tribes worked with the Obama adminstration for almost eight years before President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears as a national monument last December. On Monday, President Trump will reverse the President Obama’s designation.

“We plan to challenge the president’s ability to revoke the designation for Bears Ears. This action is so disrepectful to tribes that spent eight years to assist the Obama administration,” comments Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch.

Senator Tom Udall (D – New Mexico), who serves as vice chairman of the U.S. Committee on Indian Affairs, says Trump’s pending executive order will be the largest attack on land and water in history and the largest repeal of a designated national monument ever with the reduction in size by 85 percent of Bears Ears,

“You are talking about over two million acres and tens of thousands of Native American sacred lands,” stated Udall. “This is insulting to Native Americans and reopens the area to looting. Tribes have been co-managing the national monument and were not properly consulted in the process.”


Udall said the president can designate a national monument by using the Antiquities Act of 1906, but it takes an act of Congress to reverse the designation.

“The president does not have the power to revoke and replace what President Obama did,” says Natalie Landreth, Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund, based in Boulder, Colorado. “The tribes truly led the process that led to Obama administration to make the designation. The tribes are ready to sue and will do so once we see the official executive order that is expected to be made by Trump while he is in in Salt Lake City on Monday. 

“Once we see what is contained in the order, we will craft the document and determine which federal court to file the lawsuit,” said Landreth.

“Taking away these protections could jeopardize public access for all of us. The president calls these monuments ‘an abuse of power’ and says we should put ‘the states back in charge.’ But history shows that when states have control, 70 percent of the land is sold off to the highest bidder,” Rose Marcario, president and CEO of Patagonia.












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