Utah Diné Bikéyah Encourages Public Comments on BLM and USFS’s Monument Management Plans

Bears Ears Monument

Published March 24, 2018

BLUFF, UTAH – Utah Diné Bikéyah encourages the public to submit comments to halt and slow down the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) scoping phase of planning for the Shasha Jaa’ and Indian Creek Units of Bears Ears National Monument. UDB believes it is disrespectful to the judicial branch of government and a waste of tax payer dollars to proceed prior to the ongoing litigation being settled by the courts.

“Please oppose the planning process underway by the BLM and USFS which is driven by Trump’s dismembering of Bears Ears National Monument by 85%. Please also oppose HR 4532, the Curtis bill,” said Mark Maryboy, a board member for UDB. He added that tribal consultation has not occurred with the Hopi, Navajo Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni, which are plaintiffs in the suit against Trump.

Trump’s boundaries do not honor tribal voices, Maryboy said, especially since the two units – Indian Creek and Shash Jaa’ – were designated without tribal consultation and without any cultural ceremonies to support them. Under the original boundaries of BENM, ceremonies were performed to honor the voices of the tribes and their way of life.

“It is clear with the absence of these ceremonies for Indian Creek and Shash Jaa’ Units, Native voices are not being honored and tribes are not being consulted,” Maryboy said.

Congressman Ruben Gallego, who visited Bears Ears last weekend, also encourages the American public to submit public comments on the scoping period process. Since visiting the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, Gallego says he has a much closer connection to the ancestral lands of the Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni people.

“The whole goal of me being out here is bringing attention to the Bears Ears National Monument and be able to push back on Curtis’ bill and the President’s actions. I think that a lot of people will naturally gravitate to the side of the five tribes that have historical, cultural and religious claims to this area. But to actually see it for myself, hear about it, and actually feel what some of these members have been feeling, is really important to me,” Gallego said.

The congressman is the sponsor of a congressional bill that will protect Bears Ears National Monument by restoring the Tribes original 1.3 million-acre monument.

“To tell these tribal members that we are not going to protect 85 percent of your background, 85 percent of your family members, 85 percent of your heritage, we would never accept that for any other culture. But, somehow, we think it’s okay to accept that for Native American Tribes,” Gallego said.

Malcolm Lehi, a Ute Mountain Ute and member of the UDB board said, “We stand as people and members of Tribes that are strongly against the Trump Administration’s downsizing of Bears Ears. We need more public comments from Tribes and from community members.”

The federal government is moving forward with management planning for the wholly  inadequate Indian Creek and Shash Jaa’ Units created by President Trump.  Though Utah Diné Bikéyah is working to restore Bears Ears National Monument to its originally designated 1.3-million-acre size via our litigation efforts, BLM’s Monument Management Planning process will result in an Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision that will guide management of these two smaller units for the many years to come.

What: BLM Scoping Meetings, the first step in the accelerated land planning process.

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, is also sponsoring a public comment event in response to the BLM scoping meet on March 26th, with the goal to “spotlight the process” of the scoping period.

When and Where:

March 29, 10 am – 8 pm

            2292 E. Highland Dr.

            Salt Lake City, UT 84106

UDB encourages the public to submit comments at the BLM Scoping Meetings as well as online at http://utahdinebikeyah.org/public-comment-form/ The deadline is April 11th. Please support the protection of the entire area, opposing the BLM and USFS scoping meetings and keep Native American uses and access at the forefront.

BENM is a national treasure for all Americans, and central to its future management is how it will honor and include Tribes. This call for action does not mean Utah Diné Bikéyah supports Trump’s designated boundaries of the Indian Creek and Shash Jaa’ National Monuments.

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