Ninety-eight percent of local Utah Navajos Vote in favor of Blocking Trump Action against Bears Ears National Monument

(Monument Valley, UT)—In the past 90 days, all seven Utah Chapter Houses of the Navajo Nation that surround the Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County, Utah were given the chance to vote on resolutions to block President Trump from taking action to diminish Bears Ears. Local Native American citizen support was nearly unanimous at 98% (with 163 Navajos in favor, and 3 opposed.) See graphic here.

Bears Ears National Monument was designated in 2016 to honor the spiritual significance of the land to Native American tribes, protect historically significant artifacts, provide cultural access, and to preserve the area’s unique recreational opportunities. President Trump is expected to remove protections from 85% of the region on Monday, December 4th, without meaningful consultation with the Tribes and affected tribal residents.

Each Utah Chapter House (comparable to a County government) held their regular Town Hall style meetings where each member of the community is given the opportunity to vote. Not surprisingly to local residents, 98% of the local Navajos (who comprise roughly half of San Juan County’s population of nearly 16,000 people) voted to keep existing protections for Bears Ears National Monument in place.

The resolution titled “Chapter House Support for Bears Ears National Monument and its Established Boundaries” (available here) states:

“The ____ Chapter emphasizes the importance of the Bears Ears region to our community members;
The ____ Chapter affirms our support of the Bears Ears National Monument, with its established boundaries;
The ____ Chapter affirms its support of the established Bears Ears Commission with its established purpose;
The ____ Chapter urges all to recognize and respect tribal sovereignty, which is a key component to properly honoring the Bears Ears region.”

The below graphic and resolution packet shows the locations and voting results of each Chapter House meeting attendee in Utah. All votes occurred between August and November, 2017 (12 individuals and one entire Chapter abstained from voting.)

Utah Diné Bikéyah (pronounced di-NAY bi-KAY-uh) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to heal people and the earth by supporting indigenous communities and the protection of culturally significant, ancestral lands. UDB offers tools, training, and technical support to five sovereign Tribes—Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, & Uintah Ouray Ute—who led the call to protect the Bears Ears cultural landscape as a national monument. Utah Diné Bikéyah is comprised of one Native American Board Member from each of San Juan County, Utah’s ten Native American communities.

Utah Diné Bikéyah

– a non-profit supporting Native Tribes working together to Protect Bears Ears – http://www.utahdinebikyah.org

FB @UtahDineBikeyah | Twitter @UtahDineBikeyah | Instagram @ProtectBearsEars

Only one Navajo elected official, San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally, opposes Bears Ears. These new resolutions demonstrate her position is not mainstream among Utah Navajos. More attuned to Utah Navajo sentiment, the Navajo Utah Commission, a 7-member Navajo Nation entity, unanimously supports Bears Ears, as does the entire Navajo Nation Council consisting of 24 officials.

Willie Grayeyes, Chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah states, “The Utah Navajos have spoken loud and clear. President Trump, you already recognized the contributions of Native American Code Talkers. Let’s continue this dialogue and support Bears Ears and honor the many contributions of Tribes. Please listen to Native American leaders and respect the reasons we have protected Bears Ears. Please leave it alone and allow us all to heal.”

It is simply inaccurate to state that local Navajos oppose Bears Ears. In fact, local Native Americans wrote the proposal, advanced it to the highest levels of government, succeeded in gaining protection with the support of five Tribes, and stand united in preserving this sacred place.

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