Environment | Opinion

Rebecca Benally: Navajos in Utah oppose Bears Ears monument






Cedar Mesa, an ancestral tribal village, is part of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Photo by Don Romnes

Six of the seven Navajo Nation chapters in Utah support the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in order to protect 1.9 million acres of sacred and ancestral sties. But Rebecca Benally, a tribal member who is the only Native American serving on the commission in San Juan County, doesn't want to see the federal government step in:
We do not support any movement to convert our sacred lands to a monument that will ultimately be controlled by bureaucrats unfamiliar with our history and traditional ways.

The federal government has proven repeated broken promises of trust responsibilities and broken treaties, again and again and again for the last 200 years.

Environmental groups trying to sell the idea of a Bears Ears monument purport that the government will agree to allow both a continued access to our sacred lands and management by a Native American Advisory Council.

While the lure of a potential job managing the monument may be appealing to some Navajo, empirical evidence would suggest we should not be so quick to believe these promises.

Environmental groups have used the divide and conquer tactics among the Utah Navajos and other Native American tribes.

The federal government’s history of managing national monuments on sacred lands should serve as a reality check.

Get the Story:
Rebecca M. Benally: Bears Ears National Monument designation disastrous for Utah grassroots Navajos (The San Juan Record 4/12)

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