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Trump reportedly to cut size of Bears Ears, sacred to native tribes

Aerial shot of the Valley of the Gods in Bears Ears National Monument. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Bureau of Land Management

(RNS) In a move many Native American and religious groups have feared, President Trump reportedly will shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported an account Friday (Oct. 27) from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office in which the president said: “I’m approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you, Orrin.”

Hatch responded to the Tribune with a statement saying he was “incredibly grateful” to Trump for the decision and pledging to work with Native American tribes in the area “find a better way” to protect the region.


RELATED: Bears Ears National Monument, sacred to native tribes, faces a challenge to its status


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has suggested the president cut the size of the 1.35-million acre monument, the newspaper reported, though it was unclear by how much and if it was Zinke’s recommendation Trump was referring to. Zinke met with the president earlier Friday, it said.

Former President Obama had created the national monument near the end of his second term in response to action by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, making it the first ever to be created at the request of sovereign tribes.

The coalition includes the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian Tribe, who consider many sites within Bears Ears sacred. Another 30 tribes also had expressed their support for protecting the region, according to the coalition’s website.

Bears Ears is “where tribal traditional leaders and medicine people go to conduct ceremonies, collect herbs for medicinal purposes, and practice healing rituals stemming from time immemorial, as demonstrated through tribal creation stories,” it said.

And, the coalition posted on both Twitter and Facebook following reports, “Any attempt to alter Bears Ears National Monument would be illegal and wrong on every count.”

The tribes are supported by a number of Mormons, citing their own history at Bears Ears and their respect for others’ religious beliefs and practices, and interdenominational Christian environmental groups, including Creation Justice and the Evangelical Environmental Network.

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

16 Comments

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  • The need to be the most remembered is strong in this one – and since being the best is not an option………………………………………..

  • There is no necessary cause for action in this case, or any other case involving the present inventory of our national preserves, reserves, monuments etc. Present inventories should remain untouched in my opinion. In the balance between stewardship and exploitation of resources there remain plenty of viable options without taking the proposed steps.

  • As a service to your international readers it would be good if you gave the metric equivalent for all measurements in your articles. Most of the rest of the world uses the metric system, so this small service would be helpful for both international and American readers, for Americans also need to be aware of the metric system.

    For instance, Bears Ears National Monument is currently 5,470.7 square kilometers.

  • Apparently it is. We had a good opportunity in the 1970s to go metric but we were too arrogant and lazy to follow through.

  • Yes, it was a lost opportunity. The 1970s was the decade when Australia, New Zealand and Canada changed to the metric system. Now the United States is the only major country that retains the old measures.

  • Or even square miles – makes a huge difference in reader understanding has to how much land is actually being talked about. In my world, acres are for farmers.

  • It’s part of our belief in American Exceptionalism. We consider the metric system, soccer, bicycle transport, public transportation in general, coins in denominations larger than 25 cents, meatless Mondays, and recycling to be Communist plots. The funny thing is that it was US business interests that wanted metric adopted, as it was supposed to make trade easier.

  • I agree that it’s not straightforward to work out square miles if you are given acres. (Try dividing 1,350,000 by 640 in your head!)

    However, if you are given the area of Bears Ears National Monument in hectares (547,074, according to Wikipedia) and want to know the area in square kilometers, all you need to do is to move the decimal point two places to the left (5470.74 square kilometers) and there you have it!

    This ease of calculation is one of the chief advantages of the metric system, and a powerful reason why it has spread over almost all of the world.

  • An arrogant attitude such as that is the best thing for everyone. It is the very means by which the US is giving the world the very rope that is being used to hang the US.

    For the first time in modern history the US went from #1 to #6 in a ranking of influence. Germany is now #1 and France #2. The EU economy is booming while the US is sinking into the abyss. Germany’s growth is beyond belief.

    As long as Americans resist the world, the world will make the US weaker and poorer. The loss of the US will be everyone Else’s gain.

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