Tweedy Sombrero Navarrete: A Christian call to protect sacred land

Cedar Mesa was home to the ancestors of today's Pueblo tribes. Photo by Don Romnes

Rev. Tweedy Sombrero Navarrete, a member of the Navajo Nation, and Shantha Ready Alonso of Creation Justice Ministries explain why Christian leaders support the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and the call to protect 1.9 million acres of sacred and ancestral lands in Utah:
In May 2016, Creation Justice Ministries commissioned a poll to gauge public support for protecting Bears Ears. The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, found that 71 percent of Utah voters support the designation of a Bears Ears national monument, whereas 20 percent opposed it. Support for designating these public lands as a National Monument is broad-based across age, gender, religion, political party, and geographic regions of the state. Voters see a wide-range of benefits to increasing protections for the public lands in the Bears Ears area to safeguard unique historic artifacts and sites (83 percent), for children to get outside and explore nature (83 percent), and to conserve natural areas and wildlife habitat (78 percent). You can see the full results of the poll, as well as response to questions about the poll’s methodology at

The poll results affirmed what Episcopalians from Navajoland and other faith communities in Creation Justice Ministries’ network knew from experience: Utahns respect God’s creation and have reverence for our neighbors’ history, spirituality, and culture. The Episcopal Church, together with its ecumenical partner Creation Justice Ministries, supports the Bears Ears monument proposal for two main reasons: the health and integrity of God’s creation, as well as racial reconciliation and justice. The two reasons for support go hand-in-hand.

Native American traditional wisdom about stewardship of God’s creation is too often dismissed. This attitude has not only contributed to centuries of physical as well as cultural violence toward Native Americans; it has also been a detriment to everyone. We all depend on the integrity of God’s creation. The tribes leading the Bears Ears national monument proposal have experience living sustainably on the land since time immemorial, and traditional knowledge related to Bears Ears is irreplaceable. Now, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is offering the United States a true gift: partnership in a national monument which will help our nation to learn from them.

Get the Story:
Rev. Tweedy Sombrero Navarrete & Shantha Ready Alonso A Christian Call to Stewardship of Bears Ears (Indian Country Today 7/29)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Richard Moe: Protect sacred and ancestral sites at Bears Ears (07/20)
Tribes gear up for fight over protections for sacred land in Utah (7/15)
Funding bill for Indian Country clears House for first time in years (7/14)
Editorial: Bears Ears in Utah is worthy of monument designation (06/20)
Opponents rely on dirty tricks as tribes aim to protect sacred land (06/06)
Editorial: Obama should declare a Bears Ears National Monument (04/25)
Rebecca Benally: Navajos in Utah oppose Bears Ears monument (04/13)
Non-Indian official decries effort to protect sacred lands in Utah (03/15)
Tribes oppose effort to stop Bears Ears National Monument in Utah (03/10)
Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk: Protect Bears Ears for new generations (03/04)
Obama weighs tribal request for Bears Ears National Monument (02/12)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe with public lands initiative (02/08)
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 (08/05)