‘An Attack on One Monument Is an Attack on Them All’

Native Americans, hunting groups, Utah Republicans, and others respond to a Trump Administration recommendation that the U.S. remove protections from parts of Bears Ears National Historic Monument. Utah Senator Orin Hatch calls the proposal a “balanced” approach, while a Native American conservation group calls the recommendation “an illegal move to turn back the clock 100 years on tribal relations and Utah’s economy.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Department of Interior report that was released yesterday contains an historic rollback of a previously designated National Monument. This reversal of public land policy is the first in a series of reviews and “recommendations” to be issued on 27 monuments created by presidential authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The review process affects 11.3 million acres of public land, all located in rural communities, and 218 million acres of publicly owned marine waterways. Secretary Zinke’s decision has prompted a series of press releases, position statements, and announcements related to the Trump Administration’s approach to managing public land resources. Selected responses, both pro and con, are included below. More detailed information regarding the National Monument review process is available from the Department of Interior. Specific information related to the Bears Ear Proposal is available from the Washington Post.


Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Interior

“Co-management will be absolutely key going forward and I recommend that the monument, and especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be co-managed by the Tribal nations. I am grateful representatives from the Tribal governments met with me in Utah and am optimistic for our future.”


David Filfred, Navajo Nation

“We don’t want it to be rescinded. We wanted it left alone. Right now, what I’m hearing is this is only a recommendation. But when they do make that move, we’re ready as a Navajo nation for a lawsuit, and all the other tribal leaders are ready. We have others who are ready for litigation. This is uncalled for.”


Utah Diné Bikéyah, a Native American-led grassroots nonprofit organization working to promote healing of people and the earth through conservation of cultural lands
“We are deeply upset at Secretary Zinke’s announcement … The Secretary failed to take the time to listen to the very people who know best what is at stake at Bears Ears and ignored overwhelming support in Utah for the monument. If the Administration proceeds in attempting to shrink the monument, we could lose funding potential, proactive management, and law enforcement resources for the land that would no longer be included in the monument. Within those lands sit some of the state’s richest biodiversity, hundreds of thousands of important Native American artifacts, and sites sacred to Native Americans and beloved by so many more Utahns.

The Secretary’s recommendation isn’t about doing what’s best for Utah. It’s not about the nuances of the Antiquities Act or differing views on land management. It’s about appeasing political allies and special interests; it’s an illegal move to turn back the clock 100 years on tribal relations and Utah’s economy.


Rafael Gomez, Jr., Tribal Councilman from the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo

“With their actions related to Bears Ears, President Trump and Secretary Zinke have deeply disrespected the five sovereign tribes of the Inter Tribal Coalition who have spiritual and cultural ties to and have advocated for protection of Bears Ears. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, and other tribes were driving forces behind protecting our national monuments. These lands are where our ancestors walked and where we hold ceremonies today so these designations are essential to protecting our culture. An attack on one monument is an attack on all. I pray that Secretary Zinke sees how important these national monuments are to us and changes the course he has taken.”


Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance

“Both President Trump and Secretary Zinke have praised Theodore Roosevelt as a conservation icon they want to embody, but Roosevelt was known for making monuments, not rolling them back.”


Joel Webster, Director of Western Lands, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

“If the president acts on the secretary’s recommendation, we will be heading into uncharted territory that could threaten the conservation legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and 15 other presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, who have created national monuments under the Antiquities Act. No president of the modern era has ever attempted to significantly alter the boundaries of a national monument, and we believe executive branch actions to reverse or otherwise undermine a single monument would jeopardize the future of all monuments, including those that are important to the hunting and fishing community.”


Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers President and CEO

“The recommendations made by Secretary Zinke, if adopted, would undermine the strength of the Antiquities Act, blunt a powerful conservation tool and diminish our national monuments system overall. An attack on one monument is an attack on them all. Public lands sportsmen will not stand idly by while these attacks unfold. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to stand up for our national monuments, the opportunities they represent and the legacy they protect and sustain.”


Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

“This recommendation reflects a balance of our shared priorities of protecting this land and the antiquities that are found on it while still preserving local involvement, and taking into consideration the needs of the local communities.”


Representative Rob Bishop, R-Utah

“This is positive news for the state of Utah and local communities affected by the Bears Ears monument designation. Anyone with honest intentions recognizes that local input should matter when the federal executive makes a decision of this magnitude.”


Heidi McIntosh, Earthjustice

“Make no mistake: Unilaterally shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument would not only be a slap in the face to the five sovereign tribes who share sacred ties to this land, it would violate both the Antiquities Act and the separation of powers doctrine.”