BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH (April 24, 2019) — The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition rejects Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s appointments to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Monument Advisory Committee (MAC) for the so-called Shash Jáa and Indian Creek National Monument Units. These “Units” were purportedly created through an illegal action by President Trump attempting to revoke and replace the Presidential Proclamation that created the Bears Ears National Monument. These “Units” encompass only fifteen percent of the original Bears Ears Monument, leaving countless and priceless archaeological sites and cultural resources unprotected. Not surprisingly, Secretary Bernhardt’s appointments to the MAC appear to include only individuals who opposed creation of the Bears Ears National Monument.
The Coalition’s five member Tribes have previously expressed their opposition to the MAC. Specifically, in November, during the BLM’s public comment period, the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Zuni Pueblo submitted a joint statement opposing creation of the proposed MAC and explaining the bases of the Tribes’ opposition. They each also requested government-to-government consultation on the matter, as required by applicable law and long-established policies. As Coalition Co-Chairman and Zuni Pueblo Lt. Governor Carleton Bowekaty stated: the MAC “does not meet the established requirements of the federal trust relationship and the attendant government-to-government relationship,” noting that BLM only reserved two slots on the committee for “representatives of tribal interests.” Coalition Co-Chairman Bowekaty also noted that each of the Coalition Tribes “are recognized domestic sovereigns and as such, all should be represented by their respective tribal leadership.”
Unfortunately, BLM failed to address the Tribes’ concerns, and the Interior Department seems bent on trying to implement an unlawful Presidential Proclamation that is currently being challenged in federal court. The Department of the Interior should stop its divisive and unnecessary efforts, and instead should work to protect all of Bears Ears’ invaluable cultural and natural resources pending the outcome of the federal court litigation.