Native Americans are jubilant over the recent creation of Bears Ears, a newly minted National Monument designated by the Obama Administration for a large area in southeastern Utah.

 

Hundreds of Native Americans gathered recently in Monument Valley, Utah, to celebrate the realization of a dream that tribal authorities and people had worked on for years to make happen.

 

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye called it a “great day to celebrate.” He said the creation of Bears Ears National Monument is an example of what Native people can do when they gather together to create a single voice.

 

The monument will protect more than 1.3 million acres of public land near a pair of prominent butts long known as the Bears Ears. The surrounding area is all-but pristine with little or no modern development, and contains cultural, historic and natural resources important to Native Americans of this region.

 

A coalition of Native American tribes, including the Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, the Navajo Nation, Hopi and the Zuni Pueblo will help manage the new National Monument along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

 

The area is especially important to these tribes for another reason – many locations contain ancestral burial grounds, as well as sites that are sacred to Native American spiritual practices.

 

The Creation of Bears Ears has not been without controversial over the years, and has been roundly opposed by many Utah lawmakers and business groups, who see lost development opportunities and state tax base generation to the creation of federal park land.

 

Even so, the millions of people, including environmentalists and especially Native Americans, are thrilled that this sensitive, historic and sacred land will now belong to future generations for all time to come.

 

Categories: National Monument, Native American

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