Timeline of Tribal Engagement to Protect Bears Ears

  • January: Bureau of Land Management continues to accept drilling applications and requests for site inspections for proposed oil and gas wells.
    • As a result of the partial government shutdown, on January 11, President Russell Begaye directed Navajo Nation to loan $2.5 million to the scholarship program until the Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Region Office is open again.
    • Sitka Tribe responds to the shutdown by opening its food pantry to its federal employees regardless of citizenship status. The tribe is also providing some financial assistance to tribal members and has “established a new account for the advanced funding,” which the tribe is expecting to be returned in its usual funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
    • Navajo Nation calls for an end to the partial government shutdown as it interferes with the United States’ treaty obligations to Navajo such as healthcare, education and public safety.
  • January: President Trump authors proclamation to modify the boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument to the “smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of important objects of historic and scientific interest.”
  • January: Rep. Grijalva encourages other members to sign on to a letter urging Zinke against allowing new oil, gas, and mining claims inside the traditional, lawful boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument.
  • Beginning Feb. 2, private citizens will be allowed to stake claims for mining under the General Mineral Law of 1872 after Trump’s reduction proclamation is made effective.
  • March: Navajo Nation leaders meet with Rep. Curtis to request him to withdraw his H.B. 4532 which sought approval of Congress to confirm and codify the President’s proclamation that reduced the size of Bears Ears National Monument and divided it into two smaller monuments.
  • March: Team of paleontologists uncover a “trove of prehistoric fossils” that could be the “densest bed of Triassic-era fossils in the nation, and maybe the world.”
  • March: New York Times publicizes internal documents that suggest Utah and federal officials misrepresented or ignored input of Native people.
  • March: Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance organized the Sacred Strides for Healing prayer run to bring awareness to the reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument as originally designated.
  • April: Representative Gallego introduces H.R. 4518, the Bears Ears National Monument Expansion Act which would codify permanent protections for the land and prevent damage from fuel extraction.
  • April: Leaders of Utah Dine Bikeyah travel to New York to present testimony on Bears Ears urging the United Nations to order the United States to respond to ongoing human rights violations happening at Bears Ears National Monument. Further, UDB leaders urge the United Nations to order the United States to formally adopt UNDRIP into law.
  • April: Senator Udall urges Secretary of the Interior Zinke to postpone the development of management plans until litigation is over. The letter was signed in support by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
  • May: Emails show that Secretary of Interior Zinke was unlikely to utilize public input resulting from the mandatory public comment period and instead remain “99-1 against any changes.”
  • June: Representatives of the Bears Ears Inter Tribal Coalition and Utah Dine Bikeyah set the record straight: Navajo Nation was not in support of shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument
  • June: Navajo Nation Council delegates, Davis Filfred and Willie Greyeyes, are bestowed award on behalf the Bears Ears Inter Tribal Coalition for advocacy and work for the Bears Ears National Monument at “Rebel With a Cause,” a gala by Conservation Colorado.
  • June: All Pueblo Council of Governors pass resolution to reaffirm support for Bears Ears and declare a desire to engage in management planning process for the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments.
  • June: At least 20 new mining claims have been staked on the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments totaling to about 460 acres of lands.
  • June: Senators Orrin Hatch and John Curtis sponsor the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018 (H.R. 5727/S. 2809)
  • July: Andrew Wheeler is confirmed as acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler was previously a lobbyist who represented a Colorado uranium mining company.
  • July: Olijato Veterans Organization of Navajo Nation welcomes Soul River, Inc., a nonprofit made up of veterans and youth, to Bears Ears to share culture and healing.
  • July: Totem carver Jewell James extends a gesture of unity in the form of a bear. While working on the totem, bears visited Lummi for the first time in sixty years, symbolizing to James that the team was doing the right work.
  • July: Records show Zinke and the Trump administration concealed documents from the public that emphasized the value of protecting Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.
  • July: Various organizations representing outdoor recreation, conservation, historic preservation, cultural heritage, scientists, archeologists, paleontologists that have called upon the Trump Administration to regain the trust of the American people in three actions:

1. “Rescind the illegal presidential proclamations 9681 and 9682 that attempt to eliminate over two million acres of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and manage them in accordance with Proclamations 9558 and 6920 respectively.
2. Publicly reject the additional recommendations included in Secretary Zinke’s report to the president.
3. Rebuke Secretary Zinke’s mishandling of this review and launch an investigation to determine the full extent of the mismanagement, ideological bias, public deception, and rejection of fact-based analysis that occurred during the national monument review.”

  • August: Udall authors letter expressing concern about Canadian mining company that acquired mining claims to over 200 acres of lands with the intent to develop the land.

The following Senators signed in support: Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).

  • August: Udall, Hienrich, Grisham cosponsor a bill designed to make clear the rules for the establishment of dissolution of national monuments.
  • August: Bureau of Land Management releases draft management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments putting 700,000 acres at risk for dirty energy extraction which would have otherwise been off-limits to extractive industries.
  • August: BLM initiates 90-day comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Monument Management Plans. Comments will be accepted until Nov. 15, 2018.
  • August: The Grand Canyon Trust and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. to expand the Daneros uranium mine.
  • August: The U.S. Interior Department canceled a proposal to potentially sell 1,600 acres outside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument before boundary is redrawn.
  • August: Despite its opposition, San Juan County highlights national monuments within Utah State borders in a new branding effort to boost the State’s economic development.
  • August: The Bureau of Land Management gives notice that Secretary Zinke is establishing and seeking nominations for the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee (BENM-MAC).
  • August: Former deputy chief of staff and a top adviser to Zinke, Downey Magallanes steps down from position at Department of Interior and begins work with BP, a large oil company.
  • August: U.S. Department of Commerce considers asking President Trump to impose uranium quotas resulting in an artificial boost in uranium prices and in interest in mining on public lands. The proposed quotas are open to public comment until September 10, 2018.
  • August: Trump administration creates a new Bears Ears advisory committee of which it has reserved two committee slots for “tribal interests.”
  • August: BLM sought nominations for 15 positions on the MAC (monument advisory committee)
  • September: Trump Administration offers 200,000 acres for fossil fuel development.
  • September: Center for Biological Diversity finds that the Trump Administration and the Bureau of Land Management has offered about four million acres for lease in 2018, alone.
  • September: BLM to host public meetings for draft BENM plans Oct. 2-4 in Blanding, Bluff, and Montezuma Creek, Utah.
  • October: 60 House Democrats sign letters urging Secretary Zinke to stop work on an environmental study and management plan.
  • October: Announcement––BLM held two public meetings on the draft management plans on October 15 and 16 in Escalante and Kanab, Utah respectively.
  • October: Ute Mountain Ute environmental officials express skepticism in uranium leakage containment system, which may ultimately contaminate Ute Mountain Ute’s water source thereby exposing its citizens to brain, liver and kidney damage.
  • November: With two representatives on the commission, Navajo Nation now comprises the majority of the three-member San Juan County Commission. The historic win provides an opportunity for Navajo representation to influence the law enforcement, finances and transportation needs of their ancestral homelands since settlers arrived.
  • December: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submits resignation letter after intense pressure to step down under a cloud of ethics.
  • January: Secretary Jewell signed a charter creating the Monument Advisory Committee (MAC) to comprise of 12 representatives from state and local governments, tribes, recreation users, local business owners and private landowners.
  • March: Chapter President Maryboy congratulates incoming Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and asks Zinke to consider respecting and upholding Tribal sovereignty by engaging Tribal officials on tribal and federal matters.
  • April: President Trump orders a review of designations made under the Antiquities Act.
  • April: This executive order requires the Secretary of the Interior to review all Presidential designations under the Antiquities Act since Jan. 1, 1996.
  • May: The Department of the Interior announces that it will hold a public comment period regarding:

(1) Whether national monuments in addition to those provided should be reviewed because they were designated or expanded after Jan. 1, 1996, “without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders;” and

(2) the application of factors (i) through (vii):

(i) The requirements and original objectives of the Act, including the Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed “the smallest are compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected;”

(ii) whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks,” etc.;

(iii) the effects of a designation on the available uses of designated federal land;

(vi) the effects of a designation on the use and enjoyment of non-federal lands within or beyond monument boundaries

(v) concerns of State, tribal, and local governments affected by a designation, (vi) the availability of federal resources to properly manage the designated areas (vii) such other factors as the Secretary deems necessary.

  • May: Secretary Zinke and leaders of Ute to discuss Bears Ears National Monument among other things––launching his four day listening tour.
  • May: Zinke met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Tribal Leadership to discuss review of national monument designations as required by the Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act (Issued: 4/26/17)
  • May: The public comments submitted mentioning Bears Ears with 55,000– more than half of the total comments submitted regarding the 45-day review.
  • June: Senator Udall denounces Zinke’s recommendations to shrink Bears Ears National Monument as, “deeply disrespectful and insulting ” to the work of tribal members and stakeholders.
  • June: BEITC recognizes Zinke’s recommendation as an illegal act that is beyond the reach of Presidential Authority.
  • June: Secretary Zinke submits 45-Day Interim Report on Bears Ears National Monument (BENM as required by Executive Order 13792, directing the review of national monuments established or expanded under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Additionally, Zinke extends the public comment period for the BENM.
  • August: Zinke submits final report summarizing his findings and recommendation to modify Bears Ears National Monument boundaries.
  • December: President Trump declares that it is in the public interest to modify the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument to exclude 1,150,860 acres which he finds are, “unnecessary for the care and management of the objects to be protected within the monument.”
  • December: President Trump took unilateral action to redesign the Grand Staircase on December 4, 2017.
  • July: Congressman Rob Bishop Proposes a bill that included protections for 1.39 million acres of Bears Ears, but did not include Tribal management of the area. This bill was not passed, as Congress adjourned without ever voting on the bill.
  • July: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and other Obama administration officials hold a public meeting to hear community visions.
  • September: House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on H.R. 5780
  • October: Secretary Jewell announces Secretarial Order encouraging cooperative management opportunities between the Department’s land and water managers and federally-recognized tribes.
  • December: President Obama designates 1.35 million acres to establish the Bears Ears National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
  • December: Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye Statement on the Obama Proclamation of the Bears Ears National Monument.

• January: San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally replaces Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy as County representative for the majority Navajo district.

• January: Phil Lyman tells UDB that it has no standing in San Juan County and rejects UDB’s request to participate in Citizens Lands Council. Lyman says he represents Utah Navajos as Chairman of the San Juan County Commission and challenges UDB’s ability to represent Navajo people. UDB explains that its MOU with the Navajo Nation and resolutions of support from Utah Chapter Houses gives it the authority to represent local land-use desires. UDB sends a letter to Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz asking to work.

• January: Navajo Nation seeks guidance from Congressman Bishop on how to engage in the PLI. No substantive response is received. (See NN letter on 1/30/15, also see UDB handout to SJC on 2/3/15)

• February: The entire Utah Congressional delegation sends a letter to stakeholders and Tribes announcing the upcoming release of a map and legislative language for PLI on March 27. Areas of “collaborative agreement” are listed as priority designations. (See letter sent on 2/4/15)

• February: Hualapai Tribal Council unanimously adopts a resolution of support (Resolution No. 06-2015) endorsing the Bears Ears Conservation Proposal. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration.

• February: Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley asks Utah Governor Herbert to support Tribes in protecting the Bears Ears landscape. Governor responds that the Nation needs to get its proposal to Congressman Bishop and Chaffetz “as soon as possible.” (See UDB letter on 2/9/15)

• February: UDB informs Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz that it has tried and failed to re-engage with San Juan County and its Citizens Lands Council and wants to be included in PLI. UDB requests a meeting directly with Congressional staff to discuss critical issues that need to be detailed prior to the March 27 release of draft legislative language. (See UDB letter on 2/9/15) No substantive response is received from the Congressional offices, but assurances are given by phone that UDB and Native American interests will be included.

• February: Due to Congressional pressure, San Juan County invites the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, and UDB to try to negotiate a shared position through a series of future meetings. A new legislative deadline is set for March 27. (PLI letter from Utah Congressional delegation 2/4/15)

• February: White Mesa Community of the Ute Mountain Ute joins UDB and appoints Mary Jane Yazzie as a Board Member to include Ute perspective in Bears Ears proposal.

• March: At the urging of San Juan County Commissioners, and without consulting Tribes or informing UDB, the Utah State Legislature passes HB 3931,* which undermines major portions of the Bears Ears proposal by designating it as an “Energy Zone.” This bill aims to streamline development and declares grazing, energy and mineral development to be the “highest and best use” of public lands.

• March: Navajo Nation Council unanimously adopts a resolution of support endorsing the designation of Bears Ears as a National Conservation Area or National Monument. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration. UDB travels to Washington D.C. and details negotiation process options with Congressman Chaffetz staff by drawing on maps with markers. UDB presents a revised Bears Ears wilderness proposal to Congressman Chaffetz staff and San Juan County during negotiation meeting that better accommodates for firewood collection.

• April: Bishop imposed legislative deadline passes without Congressional action.

• March, April, & May: Four negotiation meetings are held between San Juan County, Tribes and stakeholder groups. These meetings have strong representation from Native American leaders and residents, but meetings are poorly run. For example agendas are never prepared, a neutral facilitator is not provided (SJC always leads), and parties are not asked to bring anything new to the table (See UDB letter to Congressman Bishop/ Chaffetz 7/8/15)

• April: Commissioner Lyman convicted of illegal trespass in his 2014 ATV ride. (See SL Tribune 5/1/15)

• April-May: The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune and others feature the Bears Ears proposal and the PLI.

• May: UDB and supporting organizations send letter to Representative Bishop and Chaffetz indicating what they will support/ oppose in a legislative proposal.

• May: The Bears Ears website surpasses its goal of 10,000 petition signatures of support only four weeks after launching.

• May: Congressman Chaffetz staff inform the Navajo Nation that legislation will be introduced in July, 2015.

• June: All Pueblo Council of Governors sends a letter to the UT Congressional Delegation and the Obama Administration clarifying that their earlier resolution of support (Resolution No. 2014-17) endorsing the protection of the Greater Cedar Mesa Landscape should be considered support for the Bears Ears Conservation Proposal.

• June: Negotiations between the SJC Citizen Lands Council, UDB, and the Navajo Nation fail to produce any results. Furthermore, at the final meeting, neither UDB nor the Tribes are invited to attend. They are told that the SJC Commissioners did not require any further information to make its final decision. (Letter from UDB to Chaffetz 7/9/15)

• June: SJC Citizens Lands Council votes on a final proposal to SJC Commissioners without input or participation from Ute, Navajo, San Juan Paiute Tribes or UDB.

• July: Congressman Chaffetz’ office assures UDB Board Members that Native American interests will be heard by Congressman Bishop prior to release of Draft language. Chaffetz agrees to “consider” including Tribes outside of San Juan County. UDB asks know the degree to which Chaffetz will support Bears Ears by early Sept. (Letter from UDB to Chaffetz 7/9/15)

• July: Chairman Chappoose of the Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Reservation Tribal Business Committee sends a letter of support for the Bears Ears conservation proposal. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration.

• July: Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition formalizes its leadership to advance the Bears Ears Proposal and meets with federal officials from Washington DC at Bears Ears.

• July: With the addition of the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Ute Indian Tribes; 25 tribal governments now endorse designating Bears Ears as either a National Conservation Area or National Monument through official letters and resolutions of support.

• July: Bishop imposed legislative deadline passes without Congressional action.

• July: UDB organizes a Bears Ears panel discussion with Ute Mountain Ute, Congressman Chaffetz and Governor Herbert’s PLI representatives at Utah’s Annual Native American Summit in Provo, Utah. Sixty people attend. At this conference, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye also asks conference attendees to support Tribes in protecting Bears Ears. No substantive follow-up discussions occur with Utah officials after this conference.

• August: Chairman Heart of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe sends a letter of support for the Bears Ears Conservation Initiative. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration.

• August: San Juan County Commissioners unanimously adopt Citizens Lands Council recommendations.

• August: Five Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-tribal Coalition requests a formal meeting with Congressman Chaffetz and Bishop and inclusion prior to the release of draft language. (See letter sent on 8/5/15)

• August: Congressman Chaffetz, Utah officials, and San Juan County Commissioners meet with the Navajo Nation President Begaye and suggests that Native American interests are well represented by San Juan County officials. The President points to the tally of local comments received in 2014 and asks how this could be the case. Commissioner Benally offers no explanation.

• August: UDB meets with Congressman Chaffetz’s staff and informs them that the opportunity to negotiate with UDB has ended and that Tribes are now in charge. Staff agrees to reach out to the Bears Ears Inter-tribal Coalition to set up a meeting.

• August: On August, 5, 2005, Alfred Lomahquahu and Eric Descheenie, Co-Chairs of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, write Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz a three-page letter. The letter details the current situation and requests a meeting in order to discuss the Tribe’s proposal and to “work with you towards meaningful conservation legislation on an accelerated time line.” This does result in any substantive discussions. (See letter sent on 8/5/15)

*Legislative language can be found at: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0393.html. Utah Code section 63J-8-105.8 lists “grazing agricultural commodity zones.” According to the state, grazing is the highest priority in these zones, and the historic level of livestock grazing in these zones has been unreasonably, arbitrarily, and unlawfully restricted by federal land managers. In San Juan County, the “Grand Gulch Region Grazing Zone,” (63J-8-105.8(2)(dd)), the “Cedar Mesa East Region Grazing Zone, (63J-8-105.8(2)(ee)), the “Dark Canyon/Hammond Canyon Region Grazing Zone, (63J-8-105.8(2)(ii)), and the “Chippean/Indian Creek Regional Grazing Zone,” (63J-8-105.8(2)(jj), are included. 

•  January: Commissioner Lyman selects individuals to join the San Juan County Citizen Lands Committee.

• May: Commissioner Lyman leads an armed militia on an all-terrain vehicle ride into sacred Recapture Canyon trespassing into an area closed to motorized vehicles.

• June: Joint Planning agreement between Navajo Nation and San Juan County expires and San Juan County is unresponsive to UDB letters regarding Joint Planning agreement.

• July: UDB formally asks SJC and its newly formed Citizens Lands Council to respond to the Bears Ears proposal by August 15 so that parties can understand the likelihood of creating a shared proposal, or determine if a National Monument request should be made (See UDB to SJC letter 7/9/14). San Juan County does not respond, except by phone to communicate that they will engage with the Bears Ears proposal on their own timeline once SJC’s proposal is complete.

• August: Navajo Utah Commission unanimously adopts a resolution of support (Resolution NUCAUG-616-14) endorsing the permanent protection of lands in San Juan County, UT as a National Conservation Area or National Monument. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration.

• September: UDB conducts outreach to new Navajo Nation officials and Tribes throughout southwest.

• September: Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie sends a letter of support for the permanent protection of the Bears Ears landscape to the Utah Congressional Delegation.

• September: Ute Mountain Ute request renaming of proposal. UDB drops the proposal name “Utah Diné Bikéyah” and replaces it with “Bears Ears.”

• September: UDB reports to Secretary Jewell on the inability of Native Americans in SJC to obtain any kind of response to its conservation proposal, even after 18 months of diligent effort. (See UDB letter to Secretary Jewell 9/19/14)

• September: Six of seven Navajo Chapter Houses in Utah adopt resolutions of support for Bears Ears

• September: Utah Congressional delegation asks San Juan County to include the Navajo Nation in its legislative proposal development process and to deliver one or more positions by the end of the year.

• October: San Juan County confirms its July agreement to include Bears Ears proposal in SJC list of alternatives for its public process.

• October: San Juan County proposes five Open Houses in Oljato, Bluff, Blanding, Monticello, and LaSal to hear local preferences for land-use alternatives. Only one meeting is scheduled in a Native community. UDB offers to convene additional meetings on reservation, provide translation skills, and create radio ads to ensure people hear about event. SJC agrees and asks UDB to partner on Open Houses. SJC also asked UDB to run the open house at the Navajo Mountain community without representation from SJC due to the travel cost, and provides UDB chairman, Willie Grayeyes, with copies of maps of alternatives.

• October: UDB delivers Bears Ears GIS layer package of the Bears Ears proposal to San Juan County. On March 4th, 2015 this same layer package is sent to Casey Snyder and Cody Stewart from Congressman Bishop and Governor Herbert’s offices.

• October: UDB delivers Bears Ears GIS layer package of the Bears Ears proposal to San Juan County. On March 4th, 2015 this same layer package is sent to Casey Snyder and Cody Stewart from Congressman Bishop and Governor Herbert’s offices.

• October: San Juan County excludes Bears Ears proposal from its list of land- use alternatives for its public process. UDB asks why the County has asked it to partner on Native outreach if the County is not including the Native proposal for Bears Ears.

• October: SJC adds one Open House in the Aneth community (on-reservation), but fails to run radio ads, send flyers to Chapter Houses, or even obtain the mailing addresses for hundreds of San Juan County residents who retrieve their mail at PO Boxes in Arizona. Consequently, Native American turn-out was low at San Juan County Open Houses (25-35 people total).

• November: UDB organizes seven Town Hall Meetings to ensure that all Native American communities in Utah have the ability to submit comments to the PLI process. UDB conducts outreach by running radio ads and posting flyers at Chapter House. 250-350 Native community members attend discussions.

• November: All Pueblo Council of Governors unanimously adopts a resolution of support (Resolution No. 2014-17) endorsing the protection of the Greater Cedar Mesa Landscape in San Juan County, UT. Copies are provided to the UT Congressional Delegation and relevant members of the Obama Administration.

• December: Bears Ears proposal wins 64% of support from San Juan County residents during public process. Alternative B that San Juan County eventually adopts receives two comments of support, or less than 1% of total.

• December: Navajo Nation and UDB representatives go to Washington, DC and report again to the Utah congressional delegation that San Juan County is not responsive to the Native American proposal in the legislative process.

• December: UDB is told by SJC that it may no longer participate in Bishop’s PLI. (See letter from UDB to SJC on 12/13/14)

• December: Bishop’s informal legislative deadline passes without Congressional action.

• January: The Navajo Nations and UDB complete Bears Ears data collection and analysis. Navajo Nation decision-makers utilize this data to make policy decisions.

• January: Navajo/San Juan County Economic Development Committee forms under Joint Planning agreement.

• February: Bishop Public Lands Initiative launches and the Navajo Nation and UDB is invited to participate. Congressman Bishop does not list the Ute Mountain Ute, San Juan Paiute, or Tribes outside of Utah as early participants. (See Letter from Congressman Bishop to Utah Dine Bikeyah, 2/15/13, launching Public Lands Initiative).

• April: UDB and the Navajo Nation spoke to the entire group at length and gave a one hour presentation on the proposal origins. We walked through the four prongs of the proposal including; NCA boundaries, wilderness proposal, regions proposed for co-management, and access needs (including firewood, herb collection, hunting, and ceremonial-use) We made a proposal like this to local, state, federal officials and the public at approximately 25 subsequent meetings. Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz had staff at approximately half of these meetings. The Navajo Nation proposal did not result in any response from the Utah congressional delegation or substantive discussions.

• April 17th: The Navajo Nation presents its proposal to San Juan County, State of Utah officials, and Utah Congressional delegation at Monument Valley. Discussion of Bears Ears proposal lasts for over two hours. (See SJC NCA Supporting Maps 3/28/13, and Navajo Nation Press Release and UDB Press Release, 8/9/13) The Navajo Nation proposal did not result in any response from the Utah congressional delegation or substantive discussions.

• May 2013- March 2015: UDB and the Navajo Nation made a total of four trips to Washington DC. We always met with the Utah Congressmen, including Representatives Bishop, Chaffetz, and Senator Hatch. When we visited, we always delivered a two page description of the proposal and offered a large map of the Bears Ears proposal. We always discussed the four prongs of the proposal including; NCA boundaries, wilderness proposal, regions proposed for co-management, and access needs (including firewood, herb collection, hunting, and ceremonial-use) We did not receive any substantive responses.

• May: Joint Planning meetings are put on hold while San Juan County develops its internal proposal. San Juan County questions the legitimacy of the Navajo Nation proposal. (See letter from UDB to SJC on 5/21/13)

• July: Navajo Nation submits the Bears Ears proposal for Bishop’s August, 2013 deadline. San Juan County does not respond to the Navajo proposal prior to this deadline and does not publicly submit a position to Congressman Bishop.

• August: Congressional leaders organize field trips including one led by UDB and hold public hearings in San Juan County. At the public hearing, San Juan County residents sling racist insults at Native American attendees. The Utah delegation does not intervene and subsequently, Native Americans stop attending public meetings in northern communities of San Juan County. (Letter from UDB to Congressman Bishop sent on 8/12/15 details this event and the negative impact it had on race relations in SJC.)

• September: Bishop’s legislative deadline passes without Congressional action.

• January: Utah Dine Bikeyah Board of Directors is set and organization launches to provide guidance on proposal development, conducts regular ceremonies and holds community/ house meetings to discuss the Bears Ears project with their communities.

• February: Navajo Nation President and UDB present UDB book and NLOI map to the Utah State Legislature. Many Utah officials express support for the Native American effort to protect spiritual sites on public lands within the Bears Ears landscape.

• March-December: Navajo Nation and UDB engage San Juan County Commissioners in discussions to pursue a collaborative County-wide Joint Planning process, assuming that Congressional leaders would initiate a new planning process.

• July: Congressman Bishop begins informal meetings with governments and stakeholders. Neither Tribes nor UDB are listed as early participants.

• August: During several meetings, UDB tells San Juan County Commissioners Phil Lyman and Bruce Adams of its goal to seek protection for Bears Ears area either as a NCA through the legislative process, or as a NM through the Antiquities Act. They express a desire to participate in developing a joint legislative position spanning Native and non-Native interests.

• October: San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman invites UDB Board Members to his office and tells them that Native Americans “lost the war” and shouldn’t be commenting on public lands issues, much like he doesn’t tell the Scottish government what to do after his ancestors left Scotland. UDB carries out its own research and leans that Native Americans have every right to engage in public land planning.

• December: The Navajo Nation and San Juan County sign a Memorandum of Agreement to undertake Joint Planning for all public lands in San Juan County. The identified purpose of Joint Planning is to create a shared vision supported by commissioners and the Navajo Nation.

• March: Utah Navajo cultural interviews are complete.

• April: The “Navajo Lands of Interest” (NLOI) pre-proposal map is widely distributed throughout Utah and in Washington DC. Leaders from all sides express strong support for Utah Navajos in advancing interests regarding their ancestral lands.

• July: UDB releases a book describing Native American interests to the public; 8,000 copies are distributed throughout Utah and in Washington DC. (Copies are available by emailing utahdinebikeyah@gmail.com) Major press events are held in Bluff and Salt Lake City and the President of the Navajo Nation weighs in with his office’s support. The book helps generate significant recognition that Native Americans have a right to engage in conservation of this region, a concept with which most Utahns seem unfamiliar.

• July: Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley asks Secretary Salazar in a letter to protect Bears Ears as a National Monument because it is one of our country’s “Crown Jewels.”

• September: Formal land planning initiates for the Bears Ears region by the leadership of Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources.

• October: UDB signs an MOU with the Navajo Nation to formalize development of the Bears Ears proposal.

• February: Senator Bennett initiates land-use planning initiative in San Juan and seven other counties in Utah. An intensive and collaborative land-use negotiation process ensues that involves dozens of organizations that meet every few weeks for six months.

• May: Kenneth Maryboy invites Mark Maryboy and Gavin Noyes, Utah Program Director for Round River, to help develop a plan to represent Utah Navajo interests in the Bennett process. Mark serves as a consultant and community liaison to a small team of land planning experts and prioritizes the opinions of grassroots people, elders and the inclusion of all Tribes throughout the region.

• May: June-August: All seven Navajo Chapter Houses in Utah approve resolutions of support for Mark and other leaders to carry out ancestral mapping of lands and development of the Bears Ears proposal in San Juan County.

• June: Utah Navajo leaders initiate a 2 1/2 year-long cultural mapping effort including Navajo elder interviews, data collection, and policy research, studying co-management, as well as local state, and federal policies.

• August: Utah Navajo leaders approve a draft proposal in advance of Senator Bennett’s deadline. This proposal was not released or made public because Senator Bennett’s time in office expired before the bill could be introduced (Bennett was defeated at his state Republican convention)

• October: Second round of elder interviews initiate to collect more detailed information about Native American cultural uses in San Juan County.

• March: President Obama signs Senator Bennett’s Washington County Lands Bill. Many counties throughout Utah request inclusion in the next bill.

• March: Utah Tribal Leaders Association begins regular discussions on how best to engage in future land-use negotiations to advance Native American interests on public lands. (UTL Agenda-6-25-09, 8-6-09, 11-12-09)

References

To read the letters referenced in the timeline, click on this link.

For a PDF of the Timeline, click on this link.