Ute tribes help win national monument for Bears Ears

Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost signs a Tri-Ute Council resolution of support for presidential designation of the Bears Ears National Monument, Tuesday, June 14 at Ute Mountain Ute Casino. Left to right: Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee member, Cummings Vanderhoop and Ute Mountain Ute Vice Chairwoman Juanita Plentyholes.
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum
Staff report |

On December 28, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah to preserve 1.9 million acres of ancestral land on the Colorado Plateau.

Sister tribes Ute Mountain and Northern Ute were apart of the Inter-Tribal Coalition that helped make the designation possible. The coalition also included the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni.

The coalition was formed in an effort to protect cultural sites in the region that have been vandalized, looted and desecrated over the years.

In June 2016, the Tri-Ute Council met in Towaoc, Colo. and discussed the coalition’s efforts. In this meeting Ute Mountain and Northern Ute reached out to the Southern Ute Tribe for support to preserve Bears Ears.

At that time the coalition had been receiving support from several tribes and had asked for the Tri-Ute Council’s support.

“It’s important that we do show support for Bears Ears,” Southern Ute Chairman, Clement J. Frost said at the Tri-Ute meeting. “Look at the ties that band us together as Native Americans; it’s important we continue to support things like this.”

The support from Southern Ute led to the passing of the first joint resolution by the Tri-Ute Council.

Fast-forward six months and the coalition’s efforts and hopes paid off, President Obama designated Bears Ears a National Monument.

“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes. Importantly, today I have also established a Bears Ears Commission to ensure that tribal expertise and traditional knowledge help inform the management of the Bears Ears National Monument and help us to best care for its remarkable national treasures,” Obama said in a statement.

The Bears Ears Commission a first-of-its-kind tribal commission made up of representatives from the five tribes of the coalition will help manage the park alongside the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. National Park Service.

There will be a celebration of the Bears Ears Monument Saturday, Jan. 7 starting at 9 a.m. at the Monument Valley Community Center in Olijato, UT hosted by Utah Dine Bikeyah.

 

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