An Update on Bears Ears National Monument
Categories: Religious Freedom/Sacred Sites/Repatriation
President Trump’s action to revoke and replace the Bears Ears National Monument is not only an attack on the five sovereign nations with deep ties to the Bears Ears region, it is a complete violation of the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution. No president has ever revoked and replaced a national monument before because it is not legal to do so. Only Congress may alter a monument. In light of this blatant violation of law, the Native American Rights Fund, representing the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe filed a lawsuit on December 4, 2017, to protect Bears Ears. (Download the complaint.)
At the end of January, the courts consolidated the three cases dealing with the Bears Ears monument in to one case and consolidated the two cases addressing Grand Staircase-Escalante in to a separate case. The judge has given the government until March 16, 2018, to file a response to the original complaints.
In the meantime, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer the case to a Utah court. The Tribes filed a motion in opposition to transferring the case to Utah since the case affects more than one state’s residents and has nationwide importance. The judge will likely decide the transfer motion within the next month
The lawsuit may take a while to litigate, so NARF continues to monitor activity on the ground to ensure that there is no irreparable harm to this important place. If there is any activity that would cause harm, we will ask the court to put a stop to it.
On January 16, federal agencies initiated a public comment process on the issues related to the environmental analysis and planning criteria for the revised monument boundaries. The public comment period will be open until at least March 19, 2018.
In legislation, bills were introduced in Congress to shrink and replace Bears Ears, codifying President Trump’s actions, as well as to expand Bears Ears. The Tribes are unified in support of the bills that would expand Bears Ears, and they unanimously oppose the bills that would shrink and replace Bears Ears. Tribal representatives have commented on legislation currently under consideration in Congress.
Read more about NARF’s work to protect Bears Ears National Monument. NARF continues to fight for the Native nations who have spent years working to protect their sacred, ancestral lands and the millions of people who declared their support for our national monuments. We will not allow the rights of our Native nations and our local people to be willfully pushed to the side for the benefit of corporate interests. We will stand firm for justice. Donate now to help protect Bears Ears National Monument.