WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The president of the Navajo Nation on Thursday urged U.S. Inside Secretary Deb Haaland to guard 1.9 million acres of land because the Bears Ears Nationwide Monument throughout her go to to Utah, increasing the positioning that was slashed in measurement by former President Donald Trump to open it to mining, grazing and drilling.
Jonathan Nez, president of the biggest Native American tribe, met with Haaland in Bluff, the gateway to the Utah monument, throughout her two-day go to to the southwestern state, the place she is assembly with tribes and political officers to debate the potential restoration – or enlargement – of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two nationwide monuments that had been drastically downsized by Trump.
The go to is the centerpiece of Haaland’s first multi-state tour since being confirmed final month as the primary Native American cupboard member, holding symbolic energy given the significance of the monuments to Southwestern tribes.
“Bears Ears is sacred and deserves to be protected,” Nez mentioned in a press release.
Nez mentioned having Haaland sit on the head of the desk throughout the session is a “historic second” for Indian Nation and made the case that the positioning is sacred for the Navajo and 4 different tribes who joined collectively in 2015 to suggest the creation of the monument to guard cultural websites from vandalism, looting and power growth.
Haaland, whose job provides her oversight of America’s huge public and tribal lands, visited Utah’s San Juan county on Thursday and can go to Kane county on Friday as a part of a evaluation of their boundaries launched by Joe Biden on the Democrat president’s first day in workplace.
Trump, a Republican, had reduce the dimensions of the 2 previously large monuments by 2 million acres (8,000 sq. kilometers) mixed on the request of Utah’s Republican lawmakers, eradicating protections that had hindered ranching, drilling, mining, and different growth in an space twice the dimensions of the state of Rhode Island.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, had created the 1.3 million acre Bears Ears Nationwide Monument in 2016 underneath the U.S. Antiquities Act after tribes initially proposed the positioning to cowl 1.9 million acres. Trump reduce it to round 200,000 acres.
Tribes within the area take into account the areas sacred and residential to 1000’s of necessary cultural and archeological websites and need Haaland to suggest to Biden to go additional than restoring Bears Ears to Obama’s boundaries, based on Pat Gonzales-Rogers, director of the Inter-Tribal Coalition.
“We’re constant in what we’re asking for. The unique tribal proposal and a path to creating that everlasting,” he mentioned.
Grand Staircase-Escalante, in the meantime, was created by former President Invoice Clinton, additionally a Democrat, in 1996 at 1.9 million acres and was reduce roughly in half by Trump.
Underneath the Antiquities Act, presidents have the authority to create or alter nationwide monuments unilaterally, which makes their protections unsure over time.
Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox, Senator Mitt Romney and Congressman John Curtis – who’ve advocated for a smaller protected space for each monuments – additionally met Haaland on Thursday.
“I’m hopeful this go to will … spotlight to the Secretary the significance of working with Congress towards a everlasting legislative resolution for the monuments’ boundaries and administration that displays the enter of Utah’s state, native, and tribal leaders, somewhat than unilateral motion,” Romney spokesperson Arielle Mueller mentioned.
Earlier this month, the Utah delegation met tribal leaders from the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, Pueblo of Zuni, and Ute Indian forward of Haaland’s go to to attempt to attain a compromise on laws to guard a smaller space of Bears Ears.