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

Patrick Gonzales Rogers

Executive Director

Pat Gonzales-Rogers supervises the staff and the direction of the tribal land management plans for the Bears Ears Monument. Prior to coming to the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, Pat was most recently the Senior Tribal Policy Advisor at EPA. He has also served as the Director of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Washington, DC Office, where he was in charge of OHA’s Federal Advocacy, legislation and congressional affairs. Previous to OHA, Pat was at the Yale School of Management where he was the Interim-Director of the Executive Management Programs for Tribal Leaders. From 2007 to 2012 Pat was the Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs, as well as the Chief of Congressional and Legislative Affairs for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior to joining the Fish and Wildlife Service he was a “special policy consultant” to the Democratic Governors Association in 2005. In 2004 Patrick was the Director of Policy for Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. He has also served as Senior Policy Advisor for the US Affiliated Pacific, Special Assistant at the Administration for Native Americans, and as General Counsel to the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee, then chaired by US Senator Daniel Inouye. Pat holds a Bachelor’s degree from UH Mänoa, where he also played football, and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law. Email Patrick: pbrogers@bearsearscoalition.org

Charissa Wahwasuck-Jessepe

Operations Director/Strategic Visioning & Development Lead

Charissa Wahwasuck-Jessepe manages the administrative, financial, programmatic, and organizational activities of the Coalition. Additionally, she leads Development and Strategic Visioning, cultivating and strengthening partnerships with funders and allies to identify areas of collaboration and capacity-building. 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

Brandy Hurt

Inter-Tribal Liaison & Traditional Knowledge Advocate

Brandy Hurt leads the Bears Ears Cultural Resources Subcommittee for land management planning and facilitates communication between Leadership, Tribal departments, and Traditional Practitioners within and between Coalition Tribes. Her work advances Traditional Knowledge in decision-making and public policy and supports collaborative monument management. Brandy also organizes and leads Elder and Youth conservation programs at Bears Ears, writes grants and provides opportunities for Indigenous communities to reconnect with the land. As a project archaeologist and ethnographer with over fifteen years of professional experience in cultural resources and heritage management, Brandy has served 22 Tribes in the Southwest, Great Basin, Midwest, California, and Alaska, and many federal and state agencies across the US. She specializes in cultural mediation and consultation support and has managed and participated in various archaeological, ethnographic, and TCPs studies to comply with NHPA and NEPA. Brandy believes in community empowerment to effect change and is deeply committed to advancing Tribal sovereignty and Traditional Knowledge for Ancestral land management. She holds a B.S. in Applied Sociology and Anthropology from Texas State University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Cultural Resource Management with an emphasis in Tribal-federal relations from Adams State University. Email Brandy: bhurt@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

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