Bears Ears national monument dispute in Utah confuses some
Bears Ears national monument has created a heated debate. A group of people in the state of Utah are fighting for the Obama administration to set aside 1.9 million acres of land that American Indian tribes say is sacred at Bears Ears national monument while another oppose the idea.
Bears Ears national monument has Utah residents in a war of words.
Some people are thrilled that the Obama administration has used the Antiquities Act to designate the 1.9 million-acre monument in San Juan County as sacred.
The supporters of the plan say that it was a long-awaited decision by the American government to understand that 1.9 million acres of land are considered sacred by American Indian tribes. American Indians were often in the area to gather firewood and nuts. According to experts, the lands are also the location of extensive archaeological sites.
As stated above, not all Utahans are for the proposition. In fact, some of Utah officials hate the idea so much that they have worked very hard and overnight to pass a resolution Wednesday strongly opposing any new national monuments in the state without the approval of lawmakers.
House members passed the resolution with a 64-10 vote, after spending more than one hour debating failed changes to the bill. Lawmakers have the full support of Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert, who is thrilled that the resolution passed during a special session on Wednesday, and is eager to sign it.
The Senate passed the resolution 22-5 along party lines after a much shorter debate than the House. Herbert’s spokesman Jon Cox issued a statement after officials succeeded in getting the bill through:
“Governor Herbert appreciates the support of the overwhelming majority of Utahns and their elected representatives on this important issue.The message sent today to the White House is clear: Utahns do not want a new national monument.”
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, explained why he supported the resolution to fight the Obama administration by saying:
“You expect us to stand and do nothing and say this is futile? Well, I think it’s futile to do nothing. We’ve got to at least stand and represent the people we’ve been elected to represent. When you look at what this will do to the community down there … this is going to destroy their lifestyle.”
The sponsor of HCR201, Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, said he is urging residents to support the resolution, and added:
“This is a huge, major and signficant impact on our state. We desire to protect, to preserve, to maintain health and access and productivity to our lands.”
Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, said that while he is willing to talk to the president and Interior Department about the issue, he believes that his voters want another national monument and that it would be “un-American” for the Legislature to not “speak our piece.”
Hinkins added that he would do “whatever it takes to oppose” Bears Ears becoming a national monument. Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, made it clear that another monument is not needed:
“How far have we gone? There are already three monuments in San Juan County. We don’t need more monuments in San Juan County. We don’t need more federal bureaucrats.”
Backers of the monument staged a rally at the Capitol, hoping to show unity among tribes in the region. Former San Juan County Commissioner Mark Maryboy cited letters of support from the governing bodies of the Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, the Hopi Nation, the Pueblo Nation, the National Congress of American Indians, as well as hundreds of letters from individuals, who live near Bears Ears.
Maryboy said before delivering the letters to Herbert:
“There are those who try to claim that Native Americans are divided over the protection of Bears Ears. This is not true. We are united, so there is no misunderstanding.”
Even polling data in Utah are at odds. A poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for Creation Justice Ministries showed that 71 percent of Utahans supported the creation of the Bears Ears monument, while a poll by Dan Jones & Associates for UtahPolicy.com found only 17 percent of Utahns want the president to create the monument.