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Press Contacts:

Natalie Landreth, Native American Rights Fund, 907-360-3423,

Matthew Campbell, Native American Rights Fund, 303-447-8760,

Katherine Belzowski, Navajo Nation DOJ, 734-646-2050,

Rollie Wilson, Ute Indian Tribe, 202-340-8232,


Native American Tribes Oppose H.R. 4532, a Bill to Codify the Repeal and Replacement of Bears Ears National Monument

Monument Valley, Utah (January 9, 2017) Leaders of the five Tribes that advocated for creation of the Bears Ears National Monument expressed their strong opposition to H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act,” sponsored by Representative John Curtis (R, Utah), and heard today in the Subcommittee on Federal Lands of the House Committee on Natural Resources.  The full testimony of the five Tribes on H.R. 4532 may be downloaded here.

The bill would codify the president’s unlawful proclamation of December 4, 2017 that attempted to repeal and replace Bears Ears National Monument with two smaller national monuments, reducing the protected area by 85 percent, leaving countless significant cultural, natural and sacred objects unprotected. The bill would also eliminate our Tribes’ ability to meaningfully co-manage Bears Ears for the benefit of all Americans.

“Despite carrying the description ‘to create the first Tribally managed national monument,’ H.R. 4532 was not developed in consultation with the Indian Tribes who would be most impacted by this bill,” said Shaun Chapoose, member of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. “No one from Tribes making up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and no one from any federally recognized Tribe was contacted to advise, consult, or assist in the development of H.R. 4532.”

“We support H.R. 4518, the ‘Bears Ears National Monument Expansion Act’ introduced by Representative Ruben Gallego (D, Arizona),” Chapoose continued. “That bill would realize our Tribes’ vision for a 1.9 million acre Bears Ears National Monument, and it should have been given equal time by the committee today. Congressman Gallego actually did consult our Tribes on H.R. 4518.”

“H.R. 4532 undermines and violates the United States’ treaty, trust and government-to-government relationship with our Tribes. It would create a so-called ‘Tribal Management Council’ that has nothing to do with true tribal management,” said Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni councilman. “It would cut out three of our five tribes with ancestral ties to Bears Ears, require three representatives that have no ties whatsoever to our sovereign governments, and all appointments would be made by the president instead of our tribes.”

“Even the name, the ‘Shash Jáa Tribal Management Council,’ is problematic,” Bowekaty continued. “By using the Navajo language, they are trying to divide us, but they will not succeed. We are united in our opposition to this bill and committed to the defense of Bears Ears National Monument.”

“This bill represents an inappropriate return to the failed policies of the 1800s when the United States would divide tribes and pursue its own objectives by designating for itself which tribal representatives the United States would negotiate,” said Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, “It is up to sovereign Tribal governments, not the United States, to select our own representatives to co-manage Bears Ears and to determine our destinies.”

“Representative Curtis has stated he wants to work together to identify shared goals and values, but his actions introducing H.R. 4532 directly conflict with his statement,” Filfred continued. “You simply can’t determine common goals and values if there is no dialog. There has been no dialog on H.R. 4532, and we oppose it strongly.”

“We oppose H.R. 4532 because it would leave hundreds of thousands of priceless and significant cultural, natural and sacred objects unprotected,” stated Harold Cuthair, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman. “There are too many objects, sites, and resources left unprotected to list them all.  Not to mention the cultural practices and traditional tribal intellectual knowledge that would be lost or diminished if this bill were to become law.”

Bears Ears has been home to Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni people for countless generations. The national monument took more than 80 years to designate. The original proclamation by President Obama acknowledges a cultural landscape rich in antiquities, with hundreds of thousands of archaeological and cultural sites sacred to dozens of tribes. H.R. 4532 would cut the Bears Ears National Monument by a million acres, leaving countless sacred sites vulnerable to looting and grave robbing—the very threats the Antiquities Act was designed to protect against—as well as to fossil fuel development and uranium mining.


In legal matters, the Navajo Nation is represented by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice; the Hopi Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes are represented by the Native American Rights Fund; and Ute Indian Tribe is represented by Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP.

The Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni Tribal Governments are working together to defend Bears Ears National Monument.