Environment | Opinion

Jim Enote: Bears Ears worthy of status as national monument






Leaders from the Cochiti, Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute and Zuni tribes met in July to discuss the establishment of Bears Ears National Monument. Photo from Bears Ears Coalition

Jim Enote, the executive director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center at Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, calls on Indian Country to support the establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah:
The effort by five tribes to establish a new national monument west of the Four Corners region is worthy of our attention. The Bears Ears Monument proposal is an assertion that tribes and the federal government will collaboratively co-manage the monument as equal partners. Upper-level policy and decision-making for the monument would be conducted through a monument commission comprised of equally numbered tribal and federal representatives. Tribal authority would not be limited to a tribal advisory committee and input would not be limited to occasional tribal consultations.

I believe the Bears Ears monument concept will directly address the asymmetry of federal land management authorities and actualize a vision by many whereby indigenous traditional knowledge and science are given equal treatment and application. This is particularly important in this case because the Bears Ears area is dense with cultural resources and is still an operative cultural landscape for several regional tribes. The ancient springs, shelters, shrines, petroglyphs, pictographs, plant and mineral gathering places of the Bears Ears area once consecrated even long ago are blessed in perpetuity and must be protected. Sadly, the area of the proposed monument has been ground zero for looters of cultural resources. As tribal peoples have become increasingly mobile and able to visit the Bears Ears area, what they find is not always pleasant.

Imagine a national monument where your presence is needed to complete a co-existing relationship of people and place. How this sense of home and place is interpreted would be a special task for the monument’s tribal and federal staff.

Get the Story:
Jim Enote: New National Monument Should Come at Bears Ears (Indian Country Today 10/14)

Related Stories:
Tribes call for new national monument on sacred lands in Utah (8/5)