Updated: March 1st, 2021. 

ATTENTION!! Outdoor enthusiasts, recreationalists, and beloved Bears Ears supporters –

First and foremost, we hope that everyone is staying safe and continuing to practice the CDC’s recommended protocols during this COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, which include washing your hands regularly, practicing social distancing, and avoiding travel if you are display any COVID-19 symptoms. During this difficult time — in which many schools, community centers, and other social venues remain closed — it can be tempting and even considered wise to extend personal or family travel to natural and sacred places like Bears Ears. However, we urge you to consider that Indigenous homelands’, such as Bears Ears and many other ‘public lands’, are not well-equipped with proper protections or infrastructure to handle large influxes of visitors. 

With warmer weather approaching, many people are venturing out to the Bears Ears region. However, our partners who work to educate people on the ground and encourage respectful visitation have been unable to achieve the same level of public education as they attempt to keep up with the overwhelming crowds of tourists, especially as they observe public health guidelines to protect their staff and volunteers. This means that we are at a critical moment in which cultural and natural resources of Bears Ears are more at risk of exposure and destruction than ever before. 

Additionally, Bears Ears lies in the center of many rural and Tribal gateway communities. These communities are facing pressure to their food sources, health care systems, and daily life. Native families are working tirelessly to protect elders from getting sick, as they hold Traditional Knowledge that is paramount to their cultural foundation and survival. We must do our part to not place extra stress on these Native and rural gateway communities — like those located in the Bears Ears region — who are already experiencing some of the greatest impacts of this pandemic. The greatest statement of solidarity in this moment, would be to refrain from visiting Bears Ears and instead donate to COVID-19 resources supporting Tribes and rural areas.

Please help us protect our Native communities and the Bears Ears cultural region by simply staying home. This situation has shown the veracity that one person’s actions have on one another – in our Indigenous ways of being this concept is considered interconnectedness – help us demonstrate the strength and wisdom of this connection by practicing resiliency, patience, and empathy as we look for ways to take care of one another.  We, as the Bears Ears community, know that we can all improve our well being and health by supporting the needs of others, especially our most vulnerable populations. Thank you for your understanding and please help spread the word!

For more information on how Tribes and Indigenous communities have been impacted by COVID-19, and why postponing your road trip could help their relief efforts, check out our Op-Ed published in the Houston Chronicle: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Opinion-Postpone-vacations-in-already-vulnerable-15289877.php

If you choose to visit Bears Ears, we hope you will exercise extreme caution and follow our respectful visitation guidelines, which can be found here.