Environment | Opinion

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk: Protect Bears Ears for new generations






Leaders from the Cochiti, Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute and Zuni tribes meet in Utah. Photo from Bears Ears Coalition

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, the head councilwoman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, explains why President Barack Obama should declare the Bears Ears National Monument and protect historic and sacred sites in Utah:
Bears Ears is home to the dwellings of our ancestors, the final resting places of our people, and sacred areas where our people still collect traditional herbs and medicines today. But it is also home to oil and gas and potash. Like so many ancestral lands, the Bears Ears are threatened not only by looters and grave-robbers, but by mining and oil and gas companies, all of whom are inflicting wounds.

The land and its precious resources need to be healed, but there are other wounds as well, which is why healing forms the inner core of our Bears Ears movement. Relationships between tribal nations have been healed as we work together toward a common goal. And now the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is looking to heal the relationship with the United States government. We are not wielding the hatchet of war, but rather extending our hand to say: join us in encouraging the spirit of healing.

We understand the work is vast, and disagreements are sure to come, but we are all seated at the same table, actively engaged, ready to learn from one another, encouraged by our elders, ancestors, and the many tribes who support our efforts.

Once a national monument is created, we must work together to help educate visitors, locals and, most importantly, the younger generations. We must listen to the history of the early settlers and their stories and historical connections to this area to make sure existing and future management plans are founded on a clear understanding of the value of this land.

Get the Story:
Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk: It's Time to Heal Bears Ears (Indian Country Today 3/4)

Related Stories:
Obama weighs tribal request for Bears Ears National Monument (02/12)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe in public lands measure (2/8)
Tribes reiterate bid for national monument at Bears Ears in Utah (01/22)
Navajo Nation Council dispels misinformation about Bears Ears (10/29)
Tribes call for establishment of Bears Ears National Monument (10/16)
Jim Enote: Bears Ears worthy of status as national monument (10/14)
Tribes call for new national monument on sacred lands in Utah (8/5)