From Utah Diné Bikéyah

BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT – The Bureau of Land Management’s Final Monument Management Plan (MMP) and Record of Decision (ROD) for the two smaller units of Bears Ears National Monument – Shash Jaa’ and Indian Creek – has been released today, and Utah Diné Bikéyah says that the plan is insufficient and continues to ignore the Indigenous Peoples who continue to advocate for its protection.

Utah Diné Bikéyah also questions the claim BLM makes on having consulted with tribes during the planning process.

"The ongoing failure to meaningfully consult with tribes is an indicator of the treatment of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. This is part of a broader problem that leaves Indigenous Peoples out of decisions for these sacred lands,” stated Honor Keeler (Cherokee), assistant director for Utah Diné Bikéyah. “Inevitably, the protection of Indigenous religious freedoms, wildlife, cultural items and practices, villages, sacred places, and burial places are ignored. We have seen this not only at Bears Ears, but at sacred places like San Francisco Peaks, Oak Flats and Apache Leap, Standing Rock, and many other places.”

“Indigenous voices are often spoken over, reinterpreted, quieted, hushed, or misinterpreted,” Keeler added. “Indigenous Peoples have been here —since time immemorial—and long before the establishment of the United States, yet we are continually silenced and this pattern cannot continue." 

In addition to Keeler, Utah Diné Bikéyah also has the following statements from Gavin Noyes, executive director; UDB Board Chairman Davis Filfred (Diné); and Alastair Lee Bitsóí (Diné), communications director.

“The Trump Administration’s final management plan for Bears Ears National Monument is an example of how the federal government continues to ignore Indigenous voices, and the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni, who among many Indigenous governments and peoples, are in a lawsuit challenging the dismantling of Bears Ears National Monument,” says UDB Board Chairman Davis Filfred. “Our concern, among other things, is that the ROD fails to include proper cultural and environmental protections, and leaves out the voice of Tribes and the elders who hold the most knowledge for these ancestral, public lands.”

“Bears Ears is alive with active ceremonies and prayers that are consistently issued on behalf of humanity that ensures our spiritual connection and survival to place. As a result, the current plan or ROD does not reflect how Bears Ears is alive,” added UDB Communications Director Alastair Lee Bitsóí

“Today’s decision indicated that the BLM has little interest in Indigenous knowledge or a relationship with local Native communities who use these lands. When will the United States begin asking these original land stewards how to manage ancestral, public lands?” asked Gavin Noyes, Executive Director.

For more information on the BLM’s decision, please read here.

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