In October the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition traveled to Washington, DC to ask President Obama to designate a 1.9 million acre National Monument on Cedar Mesa in San Juan County, Utah.
– Amy Brunvad
The Coalition is a partnership of Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah Ouray Ute, Hopi, Zuni and Navajo tribes and also has support from the National Congress of American Indians.
The Inter-Tribal proposal describes the cultural and spiritual significance of the area as well as the vulnerability: “The rampant looting and destruction of the villages, structures, rock markings and gravesites within the Bears Ears landscape saddened and sickened our ancestors, and that sense of loss and outrage continues today. The depth of our spiritual connection to these places is not widely understood, but it is true that these desecrations to our homeland, structures, implements and gravesites — insults to the dignity of our societies and Traditional Knowledge as well—wound us physically. By visiting Bears Ears, giving our prayers and conducting our ceremonies, we heal our bodies and help heal the land itself.”
Looting has been a huge problem. The November issue of Smithsonian Magazine has an article with photos of some of more than 5,000 artifacts looted from Cedar Mesa that were recovered during a 2009 federal raid. This raid was characterized as federal overreach by State Rep. Mike Noel (R-Kanab) who defended the practice of archaeological looting during a meeting of the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands last June. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) initially said he would be willing to consider supporting Bears Ears National Monument as part of a larger public lands compromise. The next day Herbert backed down and told the Utah Association of Counties that he would oppose any monument designation that didn’t meet with their approval.
Bears Ears Coalition: BearsEarsCoalition.org/action
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