The Next Standing Rock? Bears Ear in Utah

In Environment On
- Updated

“Rising from the center of the southeastern Utah landscape and visible from every direction are twin buttes so distinctive that in each of the native languages of the region their name is the same: Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jáa, Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe, or Bears Ears. For hundreds of generations, native peoples lived in the surrounding deep sandstone canyons, desert mesas one of the densest and most significant cultural landscapes in the United States.”

Proclamation by President Barack Obama establishing Bears Ears National Monument, Dec. 28, 2016

If President Trump is successful in rescinding Bears Ears National Monument, it will be a breach of faith with our future and our past. Over 330 million visits were made to the national parks last year. One park or monument at risk means all are at risk. Pick yours: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Big Bend, Acadia. The federal Bureau of Land Management has proposed issuing oil and gas leases just outside Zion National Park, one of the nation’s most visited parks. Forty national parks are vulnerable to oil and gas extraction.

A portrait of Andrew Jackson has been newly hung in the Oval Office over Donald Trump’s shoulder. The portrait might remind our 45th president of how Jackson signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which lit the match to America’s criminal treatment of native people. The Trail of Tears is just part of Jackson’s legacy. His face still remains on the $20 bill — fitting perhaps, since so much of the battle over land is the battle over the dollar.

No amount of money is a substitute for beauty. No amount of political power can be matched by the power of the land and the indigenous people who live here. If we do not rise to the defense of these sacred lands, Bears Ears National Monument will be reduced to oil rigs and derricks, shining bright against an oiled sky of obliterated stars.

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Is Mr. Zinke Really T.R.?

On his first day on the job, Ryan Zinke, President Trump’s secretary of the interior, rode a horse to work, in plain imitation of Teddy Roosevelt, who as president used to gallop around Washington, and whose admirable record as a conservationist Mr. Zinke says he hopes to emulate. By all accounts, Mr. Zinke, a former Navy SEALs member and congressman from Montana, is not a dope. He therefore knows that he cannot possibly match Mr. Roosevelt if he embraces the dismaying anti-environmental agenda Mr. Trump has saddled him with.

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