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,

Tribal Leaders Extremely Disappointed over Action by President Trump to

Revoke and Replace Bears Ears National Monument

Monument Valley, Utah (December 4, 2017) Leaders of the five Tribes that advocated for creation of the Bears Ears National Monument expressed indignation over President Trump’s unlawful and unilateral move to revoke and replace Bears Ears National Monument. Despite multiple requests from tribal leaders to meet with him on Bears Ears, President Trump made up his mind and acted without meeting with the Tribes whose cultures, lands and history the monument is intended to protect. This is in keeping with Secretary Zinke’s failure to adequately consult and engage with the Tribes on Bears Ears.

“President Trump’s illegal action is a shameful attack on Tribes, and it will not stand,” stated Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni councilman. “The President’s action is without legal authority and without respect for the Native Americans that worked for decades to protect these resources. His proposal is a strong statement to Tribes across the nation that Native American values and interests are not important to the Trump administration.”

“Bears Ears isn’t just about a few artifacts in isolated locations. Our cultures are still here and still thriving,” said Shaun Chapoose, member of the Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee. “The Bears Ears region is a cultural landscape – a place to nurture our families in our traditions. The monument came about through government-to-government negotiations with the previous administration, state and local officials. The President’s proposed unilateral action pleases a few powerful Utah Politicians. It’s a sad state of affairs, but we are prepared to fight for our rights, and to protect Bears Ears.”

“We have direct ties to the Bears Ears region, and this area is immensely important to us. We wanted to educate President Trump about our connection to Bears Ears, but he ignored our request,” said Harold Cuthair, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman. “We will not stand by and let this happen without a fight.” Cuthair continued.
“President Trump’s arbitrary proposal to eliminate protections for sacred lands leaves tens of thousands of historical and cultural sites vulnerable,” said Alfred Lomahquahu of the Hopi Tribe. “The monument was already greatly reduced from what the Tribes originally requested. Now, without consultation and without notification, President Trump is breaking the government’s promise to work with Tribes to protect the homeland of our ancestors.”

“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue. The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,” President Begaye said. “The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction to the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”

“Bears Ears National Monument is not just for Native Americans but for all Americans,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “This is a sad day for indigenous people and for America. However, we are resilient and refuse to allow President Trump’s unlawful decision to discourage us. We will continue to fight in honor of our ancestral warriors who fought for our way of life, for our culture and for our land too.”

“More than 150 years ago, the federal government removed our ancestors from Bears Ears at gunpoint and sent them on the Long Walk, but we came back,” said Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents five of the seven Utah Chapters (county-like governments of the Navajo Nation). “The President’s proposal is an attack on Tribes and will be remembered as equally disgraceful —but once again we will be back. We know how to persist; we know how to fight; and we will fight to defend Bears Ears.”

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. President Trump’s proposal to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument leaves tens of thousands of 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.

Royalty-free still images of places cut from Bears Ears National Monument are available here:
Royalty-free video b roll of places cut from Bears Ears National Monument is available here:


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.