“At Bears Ears We Can Hear The Voices Of Our Ancestors In Every Canyon And On Every Mesa Top”
The Creation Of The First Native National Monument
On December 8, 2016, President Barack Obama announced the designation of Bears Ears National Monument. At 1.35 million acres of public land in Utah, it was the second-largest national monument in the contiguous states. Bears Ears is glory country, a Southwest terrain of canyons, mesas, mountains, red rock formations, and long vistas. Wallace Stegner wrote that the Bears Ears landscape “fills up the eye and overflows the soul.” The area holds, and has always held, profound cultural significance for the Native peoples who live in the area
This is the first national monument ever brought forth by Indian people. They organized a grassroots coalition of five tribes—the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Northern Ute, and Zuni—that took the lead in advocating for the monument with the Obama administration. The tribes were backed up by conservation groups, the outdoors industry, scientific organizations, and countless citizens. Importantly, the proclamation provides, for the first time ever, that a major federal landholding will be collaboratively managed, by the five tribes and the Forest Service, BLM, and Park Service.
In 2017, President Trump attempted, by proclamation, to eviscerate the monument by eliminating 85% of the Obama monument. The matter is in litigation, where the tribes seem to have the better position. A ruling by the Federal District Court of Washington, DC on the legality of the Trump order is expected soon.
This program will be LIVESTREAMED for virtual viewing.
Join us for this second evening of presentations with Professor Charles Wilkinson, Moses Lasky Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Colorado. A graduate of Stanford Law School and an associate with Phoenix and San Francisco law firms, Wilkinson joined the Native American Rights Fund in 1971 as a staff attorney. Since 1975 he has taught at the Oregon and Colorado law schools, receiving many awards for teaching and research. He is the author of 14 books, including Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West (1992); The Eagle Bird: Mapping a New West (1992); Fire on the Plateau: Conquest and Endurance in the American Southwest (1999); Messages from Frank’s Landing: a Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way (2000); and Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations (2005.)
He has served on the boards of The Center of the American West; the Western Environmental Law Center, the Wilderness Society; and the Grand Canyon Trust. Over the years, Wilkinson has taken on many special assignments for the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Justice. He served as special counsel to the Interior Department for the drafting of the 1996 Presidential Proclamation establishing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Wilkinson was also Special Advisor to the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition for the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument in 2016.
Photo Credit: Bob Wick, BLM