Native No More

Donald Trump approves plans to strip land from Bears Ears National Monument

Illustrator: Will Hanson

President Trump recently announced his intent to downsize Bears Ears National Monument, which is a 1.35 million-acre protected area in Utah. It is home to many Native American cultural sites.

Bears Ears was originally designated a national monument by former President Obama in late 2016, and it is the latest victim of a string of presidential decisions to alter other monuments established by previous presidents. Although it has not yet been specified how much of the monument will be trimmed, some reports suggest that the state is pushing for as much as a 90 percent reduction.

While the commissioners of Utah’s San Juan County, which is home to Bears Ears, have expressed their support for the president’s decision, local Native American tribal leaders have renounced the president, claiming that he does not have the authority to take such action. In fact, tribal leaders have already prepared legal arguments against the president and plan to battle Trump in court, disputing the legality of his actions.

This unfortunately marks another instance in which the interests of our nation’s original inhabitants seem to be disregarded: a historical trend that, disturbingly, continues today. It seems that by and large the people who support Trump’s decision have little investment in the monument. The officials who oppose Bears Ears are certainly not representative of the interests of the Navajo, for whom the monument holds actual meaning. Apparently for Native Americans, even after having the entirety of the continental United States wrenched from their grasp, a portion of Utah is still too much to ask for. After centuries of mistreatment, the Native Americans are due some respect. The least we can do is to recognize the sanctity of their land.