Trump’s decision to shrink 85 percent of the Bears Ears monument in Utah was met with swift action on December 2—two days before the proclamation was signed. Navajo Nation, one of 5 Native American tribes protected under an agreement with the government, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal expenses. So far the group has raised nearly 40% of its $5,000 seed money goal.
Excerpts from the page read:
“With the visit of President Trump to Salt Lake City, UT has come the unlawful reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The Navajo Nation is determined to fight for tribes’ rights to protect their sacred sites. The establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument by President Obama ensured meaningful engagement by tribes in the management of their historic, cultural, and spiritual patrimony at sites sacred to the Nation and the other four tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (represented by the Native American Rights Fund) and the Ute Indian Tribe (represented by Frederick Peebles).”
On Monday, surrounded by Republican supporters in Salt Lake City, the president signed two proclamations to remove more than a million acres from protection, and announced, “We got it done.”
The proclamations will shrink both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by a total of more than 2 million acres and, in the process, carve up what remains into several smaller monuments
Trump’s decision to remove protections is being heavily protested and, according to law experts, it’s illegal. The Trump Administration is in for a big legal fight, they say.
It’s also disrespectful. A spokesperson for one of the tribes said, “At the very least, President Trump should have consulted with the original local governments of the Bears Ears region: our five Indian nations. Instead, our many requests for consultation were ignored.”
“What the politicians are doing is violating what’s sacred to us,” Alfred Lomahquahu Jr., vice chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, told The Nation last week, comparing it to removing protections for Arlington National Cemetery. “Our holy, sacred ground happens to be the big landscape out here. But people don’t understand that. Not honoring Bears Ears is against our religion. And it’s racist.”
“The outcome of tribal claims against President Trump to defend Bears Ears National Monument will set precedent that can and will affect other National Monuments under attack by President Trump,” Navajo Nation said.
For more information regarding the establishment and evolution of the Bears Ears National Monument campaign, visit https://bearsearscoalition.org/ or the GoFundMe page at https://www.GoFundMe.com/NavajoNationBearsEars.