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Utah Republicans Shamelessly Invoke Tribes to Condemn Biden’s Monument Restoration

Utah’s GOP devolution depicted tribes as allies in their battle against secured national monuments, though they appealed for one site’s creation.

What step did Mitt Romney (R-Utah) take?

Since the news broke out last week that President Joe Biden reinstates the boundaries of a couple of national monuments in Utah which the former President Donald Trump decreased four years earlier, Sen.

Mitt Romney (R-Utah) disgraced the move on Twitter. Re-expansion of the boundaries Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments “is a devastating blow to our state, local and tribal leaders and our delegation,” written by Mitt Romney, further adding that Biden had “squandered the opportunity to build consensus by working with stakeholders to find a permanent, legislative solution.”

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In an opinion piece circulated in the Deseret News and named “A monumental insult,” Romney, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and the remaining of congressional delegation of Utah dissented that Bears Ears and restoration by Biden “fails to include the crucial input and involvement of local tribes in protecting and highlighting their cultural heritage.”

It is not a secret that Utah Republicans were intensely in opposition to Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears when President Bill Clinton formed them in 1996 and President Barack Obama created them in 2016 and persuaded for reversal of Trump. The state leaders have an expanded past of jumping into public land protections.

But depicting tribes as consenting with them is nothing short of deceitful.

What did Pat Gonzales-Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition say?

The executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, Pat Gonzales-Rogers, an association of the five tribes that demanded Obama to make Bears Ears a monument, stated that “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding, or a complete ignorance, of Indian law and policy,” further adding that “The tribes are their unique sovereigns. Senator Romney does not speak for them.”

Biden’s-Monument-Restoration
Biden’s-Monument-Restoration

He said that “Frankly, some of this sounds like sour grapes,”

Why did the Utah Republicans decide to not elaborate?

The Utah Republicans decided to not explain on their extensive claims that activity of Biden somehow hurts or distress tribes, and the offices of Romney and Lee did not retort to the request HuffPost for remark.

What is special about this national monument?

Bears Ears is the very first and also the only national monument to have been formed at the straightforward request of the sovereign tribes. The landscape is home to over about 100,000 famous cultural and archaeological sites which also includes cliff dwellings and ancient rock art panels and the five tribes evaluate the area as holy, the Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, the Pueblo of Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante is also rich in both archaeological and paleontological resources. The landscape brings forth a section of the ancestral homelands of the Southern Paiute people and other numerous tribes that have an ancient connection with the area.

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When the Interior Secretary of Trump, Ryan Zinke suggested diminishing Bears Ears in 2017, the Bears Ears tribal coalition disgraced it as “a slap in the face to the members of our Tribes and an affront to Indian people all across the country.”

When Trump chased through and decreased the size of the monument by 85%, the coalition immediately prosecuted. On Friday and when Biden signed a declaration to reinstate the monument to its previous size, the coalition celebrated it as an identification of “the deep and enduring ancestral and cultural connections that Tribes have to this landscape.”

What was Deb Haaland’s first trip?

The first trip of Deb Haaland as interior secretary included the two Utah monuments, where she met with several stakeholders, along with tribal leaders who sensed to be ignored and backstabbed by the administration of Trump sham feedback and reversal.

What was mentioned in the report file in June?

In June, a report was filed to the White House and also made open to the public last week, the interior secretary Haaland suggested Biden reinstate both of the Utah monuments to their earlier footprints. The document contained the 16-page details of the administration’s opinion with 11 federally acclaimed tribes.

The report states “During Tribal consultation, all Tribal leaders and representatives who provided input expressed support for the restoration of the pre-modified boundaries and conditions of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments,” 

Further adding to that “Some Tribal leaders characterized the Trump-Pence administration’s action to dramatically reduce the monument boundaries as yet another broken promise by the Federal Government, adding to the generational trauma that Tribes have endured from hundreds of years of policies and efforts to exterminate Native Americans and remove them from their lands.”

During the signing of a proposal by Biden on Friday, reversals of Trump, elected tribal leader backed him which included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma, and Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Manuel Heart.

“Today’s announcement, it’s not just about national monuments,” Haaland stated during the signing ceremony. “It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations. The president’s action today writes a new chapter that embraces Indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table, and demonstrates that by working together we can build a brighter future for all of us.”

Biden’s proposal on Bears Ears promises further resources, incorporating rangers and new informational signage, to protect the cultural and archaeological resources of the area in a better way and manage developing visitation.

There are, obviously, Native Americans who are not consenting to the monuments for multiple reasons. The member of the Navajo Nation, Rebecca Benally, has been one of Bears Ears’ strongest contenders, moving as far as to profess that “national monuments kill people.”

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Republicans, along with Trump administration authorities, have continuously pointed out to Benally to claim that local Native Americans disagreeing with the monument, and she was among those Navajo members available when Trump demolished the monument.

But single tribal members don’t say anything in favor of tribes and that’s the work of elected tribal officials. The tribal assistance for Bears Ears has and perpetuates to be compelling.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition portrays the five tribes’ cumulative interests in Bears Ears in the similar way that the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission depicts on the capacity of four Pacific Northwest tribes — Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Nez Perce — when it exudes to fisheries problems in the Columbia River watershed.

Gonzales-Rogers said “When we have a consensus, we are acting on behalf of that tribe for this issue,” further added that “It is inherently a direct, dotted line to each tribe specific to Bears Ears.”

She also said that Romney and other Utah politicians are just misusing the anti-monument opinion of the individual tribal members to distort the approaches of elected tribal governments.

Gonzales-Rogers raised the problem with Romney alleging the administration of Biden of having “squandered the opportunity to build consensus” with tribes and other stakeholders. The tribes were ready to work with the state officials and congressional delegation of Utah but they never gave the coalition their opinion and suggestions for Bears Ears, she said. Despite this, it became evident that they just needed tribes to obey their lead.

“If anyone has squandered an opportunity it’s the Utah federal delegation and Governor Cox,” he stated. “This premise that the tribes did not want to collaborate and be a partner is incredibly untrue.” 

“You’ve got to look at this historically,” he added. The state of Utah “has an acrimonious relationship with tribes. It has always questioned the sovereignty of tribes in its state.”

What did the director of Indigenous-led organization NDN Collective’s climate justice campaign say?

The director of Indigenous-led organization NDN Collective’s climate justice campaign, Jade Begay stated it as a “classic example of divide and conquer.”

“Utah elected officials like Senators Romney and Lee are trying to incite division between Indigenous Peoples, tribal leaders, and communities,” she wrote HuffPost through email. “Ultimately, these lawmakers’ statements are invalidated by their position within a party that promotes the violation of the treaty and Indigenous rights.”

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Written by Abhimanyu Sangwan

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