NARF Files Suit to Protect Bears Ears


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Bears Ears at Sunset. Photo credit: Tim Peterson.

Bears Ears at Sunset. Photo credit: Tim Peterson.

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 today to protect Bears Ears. (Download the complaint filed December 4, 2017.)

Five tribes—Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe—led the effort to establish the Bears Ears National Monument, an area still used for cultural and religious purposes. Increased looting of the estimated 100,000 plus structures, sites, and objects within every reach of the monument dictated the need for protections in the form of a monument designation.

According to NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell, “Bears Ears is one of the most important places for Indian Country, and that is why Indian Country came together to advocate for this important place. Trump’s attack on Bears Ears is an attack on all of us, and we will fight to protect it.”

NARF Staff Attorney Natalie Landreth said “The Administration is not telling the truth. The Bears Ears monument as created by President Obama preserved hunting, fishing, gathering and grazing rights, and protected these incredible lands from widespread looting and oil, gas and mineral development.” No matter what the President said today, his action does the opposite: by its own terms, in 60 days the revoked lands are open to “entry, location, selection, sale” and “disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing” and “location, entry and patent under mining laws.” Landreth continued, “this is taking public lands that belong to the American people and selling to the highest bidder, there is just no other way to understand it.”

This latest action follows on the heels of the Administration’s other actions against Tribes: (1) issuing the permit to the Dakota Access Pipeline, (2) issuing the permit to the Keystone XL, and (3) revoking the Executive Order to protect the Bering Sea on April 28th. Tribes vigorously opposed all of these efforts. The Administration uses the term “tribal sovereignty” but clearly does not understand what that means.

Read more about NARF’s work to protect Bears Ears National Monument.

 

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