The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

In July of 2015, leaders from the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe , Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian Tribe founded the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Each Coalition Tribe exercises its inherent right to self-determination by appointing a delegate to represent its interests in the Coalition’s work, in tandem with an MOU signed by all five Tribal councils that invests power in and ascribes limits to Coalition activities. In this way, we are distinct from a typical non-profit or grassroots organization because we are an extension of each Tribe’s sovereign authority. The Coalition Tribes are unified in the effort to protect this landscape we call Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe, in our Native languages, all of which mean “Bears Ears.” Today, a total of 30 Tribes have expressed support for protecting the Bears Ears landscape for all future generations. We are pursuing this goal by working collaboratively with our partners to immediately address needs on the landscape and by developing a land management plan for the greater Bears Ears landscape (1.9 million+ acres) that is rooted in our Indigenous perspectives and place-based conservation strategies, developed over centuries. This land has been occupied before the United States was a country and we continue to exercise our political sovereignty in our advocacy for Bears Ears and use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to improve management of this sacred place in a manner that promotes its resilience for all to enjoy. Please note, the Coalition does not directly handle any inquiries or questions about the Hopi Tribe et al., v. Donald J Trump et al., lawsuit nor does the organization collectively deal with the case.

Convening Tribes gather below the Bears Ears buttes. Photo credit Tim Peterson

Coalition Leadership

Malcolm Lehi

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

Malcolm Lehi is a councilman for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and serves as Co-Chair for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. He was part of the group who worked to establish the original Bears Ears National Monument in 2016.

Carleton Bowekaty

Zuni Pueblo

Carleton Bowekaty is Lieutenant Governor for the Pueblo of Zuni and currently serves as Co-Chair for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. He is a U.S. Army infantry veteran who served three tours in Iraq and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

Craig Andrews

Hopi Tribe

Craig Andrews is Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, a Bear Clan from the Village of Mishongnovi and a member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Craig is a Marine Corp Veteran. He has also served previously as a Tribal Council Representative.

Hank Stevens

Navajo Nation (Diné)

Hank Stevens represents the Navajo Nation for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. He is a community member of Naatsis’áán (Navajo Mountain), and has also served as one of the Coalition’s Co-Chairs.

Myron Lizer

Navajo Nation (Diné)

Myron Lizer respectfully serves as the Vice President of the Navajo Nation. Since taking the Oath of Office on January 15 th , 2019, Vice President Lizer brought a wealth of knowledge in relational marketing and business development as a honed entrepreneur and accountant. Vice President Lizer served on various business boards, private school boards, guided congregations as a bi-vocational pastor, and proactively participated in tribal advocacy. Vice President Lizer earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO in 2006 and has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience. Vice President Lizer proudly accepts to represent the Navajo Nation to protect Bears Ears as a co-representative of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Mr. Tabbee - Ute Indian Tribe

Christopher Tabbee

Ute Indian Tribe

Christopher Tabbee is a member of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee and an Uncompahgre Band Representative.  Christopher was born and raised and lives on the Tribe’s 4.5 million acre Uintah and Ouray Reservation.  Christopher is working to promote economic development opportunities on the Reservation.  He is also directly involved in promoting community health and wellness through cultural and physical activities.  Christopher is actively involved in the Ute Indian Tribe’s efforts to restore and protect its land base.

Terry Knight

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

Terry Knight is a respected spiritual leader from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and serves as the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and as a representative for the Coalition. He has served as both a councilman and the chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Terry has a degree in political science from Fort Lewis College and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Black Sheep Squadron. He has worked in archaeology field work and associated projects since the Ute Water settlement in 1988 and is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)/ American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) liaison to local, state and federal agencies for Ute Mountain Ute. Terry also serves as the Beardance Chief and Sundance Chief.

Coalition Staff

Charissa Wahwasuck-Jessepe

Managing Director of Administration & Strategic Partnerships

Charissa Wahwasuck-Jessepe manages Tribal Leadership directives and daily operations, leads Strategic Planning and Visioning, and oversees the ramp up and creation of the Bears Ears Commission. She also leads Strategic Partnerships, cultivating and strengthening partnerships with funders and allies to identify areas of collaboration and capacity-building. Additionally, she is the Project Lead and Manager over organizational projects and priorities, and assists in Fundraising and Development. Prior to joining the Coalition, Charissa was a Project Coordinator and Executive Management Trainee at Norterre, a first-of-its-kind multigenerational community in Liberty, Missouri, assisting in the ramp-up and opening of a 17-acre health and wellness campus. While there, she supported the creation and implementation of organizational policies and procedures and also co-led community acquisitions and compliance control for other Action Pact properties. Prior to that she was a City Management Fellow with the City of Topeka, gaining experience in strategic planning, project management, and community engagement while working in the City Manager’s Office and Finance and Utilities Departments. Charissa was also a Legislative Fellow at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in Washington, D.C. assisting in advocacy and policy efforts for Native Hawaiians and greater indigenous communities. She has a BS in cultural anthropology from Wichita State University and an MPA from the University of Kansas. Charissa is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe in Northeast, Kansas. Email Charissa: cjessepe@bearsearscoalition.org

Hillary Hoffman Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

Hillary Hoffmann

Managing Director of Public Land Management and Intergovernmental Relations

Hillary Hoffmann supervises the intergovernmental land management planning effort for the advancement and realization of the collaborative management relationship at the Bears Ears National Monument as well as oversees implementation of the Project’s Land Management Plan. Additionally, she manages the Coalition’s external relationships with nongovernmental entity allies and partners and conducts review, analysis, and research on legislation and policy to assess implications and effects to issues pertinent to Bears Ears and its Tribal affiliates. For over a decade prior, Hillary was a law professor and consultant on several indigenous environmental governance projects and initiatives involving tribal lands, tribal resources, and federal and state public lands. She published a book on cultural resource protection:  A Third Way: Decolonizing the Laws of Indigenous Cultural Protection (Cambridge U. Press, 2020) (with Monte Mills) and serves as a commissioner on a state Native American Affairs commission.  Prior to her academic career, Hillary was in private practice in Salt Lake City, where she focused on natural resources and public lands management. Hillary received her B.A. from Middlebury College and her J.D. from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.  She was elected into the American Law Institute in 2020, but likes to spend most of her free time away from the worlds of law and policy, hiking and exploring the hidden wonders of the Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands with her husband and their four children. Email Hillary: HHoffmann@BearsEarsCoalition.org 

Tyesha Ignacio

Operations and Outreach Coordinator

Tyesha Ignacio is responsible for implementing, coordinating, and developing projects and programming to advance organizational goals and for providing operational support to Coalition staff and Tribal Leadership. Additionally, she serves as the lead coordinator for public outreach efforts, including developing, organizing and managing public relations efforts. Tyesha is Diné, Start of the Red Streak Clan born for the Black Sheep People, she is originally from Black Mesa, Arizona. Previously, Tyesha was a Government and Legislative Affairs Associate at the Navajo Nation Washington Office in D.C., where she conducted policy review and legislative analysis to ensure that priorities of the Navajo Nation were advanced and protected. Her legislative portfolio included environmental and health related topics such as the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians reauthorization. Prior to that she was a Second-Year Wilma Mankiller Fellow at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in Washington, D.C. where she headed the development of NCAI’s Climate Action Resource Center and co-authored the NCAI Tribal Governance Innovation Spotlight: Food Sovereignty Yurok Tribe and the NCAI Workforce Development Toolkit: A Decision-Framing Toolkit. She has a BA in Environmental Studies form Northern Arizona University and an MPA from the University of Kansas. Email Tyesha: tignacio@bearsearscoalition.org

Ruben Pacheco

Content Creation & Communications Specialist

Ruben Pacheco is a digital storyteller and oversees media and communications for the Coalition’s dynamic audience. He was born and raised in Albuquerque, where he graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Political Science. He has lived in D.C. and Austin where he worked as a policy analyst but only feels at home in the Rio Grande Valley. His policy experience includes immigration policy, criminal justice policy, and American Indian federal policy. Ruben has extensive experience as a copy-editor and has subject matter expertise in digital media and communications. His work is motivated by a deep commitment to inclusive institutions that promote well-being and community health. Email Ruben: rpacheco@bearsearscoalition.org

Lauren Henson

Collaborative Management & Tribal Support Specialist

Lauren Henson leads the Bears Ears Cultural Resources Subcommittee for land management and facilitates communication among Tribal departments, Traditional Practitioners, Cultural Advisors, and Leadership within and between Tribes involved in the co-management of Bears Ears National Monument. Lauren also works to provide opportunities for communities to re-connect with the land and organizes conservation programs for Elders and Youth at Bears Ears. As a wildlife biologist with experience weaving western science and Indigenous knowledge to inform land stewardship, Lauren is committed to collaborative management that recognizes, respects, and advances Traditional knowledge. Lauren has previously supported Indigenous-led monitoring and stewardship of grizzly and black bears for five First Nation Stewardship Departments in what is now known as British Columbia. She specializes in applied conservation science, specifically focusing on predator population dynamics, health, and connectivity across large landscapes. Lauren is committed to stewardship that addresses the needs and interests of Indigenous communities and advances Tribal sovereignty. Lauren has a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College, a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and a Ph.D. from the University of Victoria in partnership with Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Email Lauren at: LHenson@BearsEarsCoalition.org

Liberty Kinsel Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

Liberty Kinsel

Administrative Assistant

Liberty Kinsel provides administrative and operational support as the Administrative Assistant for the Coalition staff and Tribal Leadership. She leads donor engagement and oversees digital fundraising, including marketing and merchandising. In addition, she organizes and coordinates Coalition meetings and Tribal Leader events. Liberty is Diné and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She comes from the Black Streak Wood People (Tsi’naajinii) born for the Charcoal Streaked Division of the Red Running Into the Water clan (Naaneesht’ ézhi Táchii’nii). She is from Brimhall, NM. Liberty has vast experience in administration, order processing and workflow planning. She hopes to leverage her knowledge and expertise to continue the protection of the Bears Ears landscape. Email Liberty: LKinsel@BearsEarsCoalition.org.

Tristen George BEITC

Tristen George

Communications and Content Creation Intern 

Tristen George is the Communications Intern for the Coalition. He helps the Communications team in all facets including social media, digital content creation, and digital media strategy. Through his experience maintaining productive vendor relationships, contract negotiation and expense tracking he is able to assist the Operations team in contracting and all sorts of day-to-day duties. Tristen is Diné and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, and he springs from the Tó’aheedlíinii, Naasht’ézhí Dine’é, Kinyaa’áanii, Tábąąhí clans. He was born in Albuquerque and raised in Georgia and is currently going to school at Fort Lewis College for Public Health and Nutrition, and currently serves in the New Mexico National Guard. Email Tristen at: TGeorge@BearsEarsCoalition.org