Bears Ears is a sacred Native American region in southeastern Utah. According to NPR, up to 20,000 Natives of various tribes live within 45 minutes of Bears Ears. In 2010, the Navajo tribal council of southeastern Utah began mapping the area’s many secret sites and locations, documenting where medicine men foraged for healing plants and wild foods. As the land has been sacred to many tribes for thousands of years, the tribal council wanted it protected. Before leaving office, President Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument, legislation that protects 1.3 million acres of land. Still, despite President Obama’s attempt to safeguard Bears Ears, it’s still threatened. Fossil fuel interests and politics are gathering like a black cloud over Bears Ears. Will President Trump reverse Obama’s order, or will Congress transfer federal lands to states and private owners, making Obama’s legislation obsolete?
Not everyone in Utah sees Bears Ears as a sacred tribal place. Republicans value the region for its energy-extraction and mineral potential. In other words, conservation doesn’t make any money. Meanwhile, local farmers value the surrounding land for its ranching potential. Almost half of the land in the West is federally owned, a fact that’s sparked discord and public outrage in many communities.
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, has teamed up with Google to help save Bears Ears from exploitation and political gain. The companies joined forced to develop “This is Bears Ears National Monument,” 10 short films that tell the stories of the area’s tribal leaders. It’s described as an “interactive film experience” that incorporates Google’s 360 degree technology. It allows you to explore the region without really being there. The film is designed to raise awareness and shine a light on a sacred tribal area that deserves protection.
Categories: Bears Ears, Native American