Op-ed: Bishop is wrong, Utah’s Native Americans want Bears Ears protected

Dec 3rd, 2015 Written by Mathew Gross

We wanted to make sure you saw this op-ed from Herman Daniels, Jr. in Sunday’s edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. Mr. Daniels is a Navajo Nation Council Delegate representing the Utah communities of Naa’tsis’Áán (Navajo Mountain) and Oljato (Monument Valley). He writes:

Recently, a number of people have tried to speak on behalf of Native Americans who live in Utah — including those of us who are Navajo and live in San Juan County.

False statements have been made to the media, claiming that the proposal put forward last month by five tribes — Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute and Uintah Ouray Ute — to protect the Bears Ears as a national monument is not supported by native communities and local people in San Juan County.

Mr. Daniels explains how Navajo Chapter Houses are “the fundamental building block[s] of Navajo democracy,” and how six of the seven Chapter Houses in Utah have passed resolutions in support of protecting Bears Ears. “[I]t becomes clear that the Navajo people who live in San Juan County overwhelmingly support the creation of a 1.9 million acre Bears Ears National Monument,” he writes.

Mr. Daniels continues:

In an Oct. 29 interview on KSL Radio’s Doug Wright show, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop stated that in the Public Lands Initiative process, he “need[s] to give precedence to the Native Americans who live in Utah.” As a council delegate representing Utah, I could not agree more and I can assure the congressman that he has local Navajo support in protecting Bears Ears.

If Bishop agrees to give precedence to the Native Americans who live in Utah, then he should understand that we have already spoken, and with overwhelming unity we have asked for Bears Ears to be protected. . . . What we have said, and continue to say, is this: It is time to protect Bears Ears, and if it can’t be passed in the coming months through the Public Lands Initiative, then the president should declare this living cultural landscape as a national monument for all.

The op-ed really is worth reading in its entirety.