Trump’s Executive Order Threatens Bears Ears National Monument Status

Trump White House continues to attempt to erode gains made by American Indian nations.

Published April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to consult local governments and tribes in reviewing national monuments created by the Antiquities Act since Jan.1, 1996, that are greater than 100,000 acres.

The Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, long viewed as a sacred place by American Indian tribes, is first on the list to be reviewed by Secretary Zinke. The secretary has been directed to report back to the president on suggested legislative or executive action within 120 days.

For decades, tribal nations have fought to protect the cultural and spiritual significance that is encompassed within the area of the Bears Ears.

Bears Ears National Monument was designated by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016 pursuant to his authority under the Antiquities Act. The area encompassed by the monument has been home to Native peoples, including the Navajo people, since time immemorial.

“Tribal nations have always advocated for a voice in the management of the area because of its great cultural and historical value. Inherent in the Bears Ears National Monument designation lies tribal responsibility in guiding management of the area,” Navajo Nation President Begaye commented after the release of Trump’s executive order. “It affords us the right to protect and preserve the sanctity of the land from which we harvest traditional medicines, and that we hold in reverence as the birthplace of our ancestors.”

President Begaye emphasized that Bears Ears National Monument designation is a victory on behalf of tribal nations and not for any particular presidential administration.

“This has been a collective effort for tribal nations which has gone back into many presidential administrations. It was only after heavy consultation from tribal nations that the Obama Administration moved on the designation,” he said. “This designation supports tribal sovereignty. We are asking President Trump and Secretary Zinke, in their review of the designations, to uphold tribal sovereignty as mandated through our treaties with the federal government.”

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President of the United States to declare federal lands of historic or scientific value to be national monuments by designating the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

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