October 11, 2019
Do you stand with Bears Ears National Monument? I thought that I did until I visited it. Now I do more than ever. If you live in the Sugar House area you have definitely seen little black signs in front of houses saying "I stand with Bears Ears" and "Protect Bears Ears". As a new resident in Salt Lake City I heard about the controversy with privatizing this public land. I believe in the importance of public land and I thought, sure I support this.
This issue goes so much deeper than many of us non-natives can fathom. Trump wants to dramatically shrink Bears Ears which is filled with tens of thousands of archeological sites, rock art, and other precious historical artifacts that need to be preserved. This red rock landscape contains deeply rooted spiritual and cultural connections that nearby natives still hold close and practice today. The Westminster Expedition had the opportunity to talk to some of the natives of San Juan county this week. Jonah, a Navajo elder, took our group to the top of Bears Ears. He sat down and let the sand run through his rough hands. He felt the sagebrush and bright yellow fallen leaves as he explained the importance of this land. "This is our stronghold, this is our whole life. This sacred spot has served as a coming of age platform for generations," he said. It is clear that Trump doesn't care about protecting native lands and has interests in mining and drilling here.
This experience has sparked an inner dialogue within myself. What can we do to resist? What can we do to be an ally? Can we live in a world for once where the colonizers don't always win? I want this to be a symbol for future justice fighters that collective effort support and compassion can be successful. I believe the first step is to learn the laws. The current administration is making it clear that the Antiquities Act of 1906 has a loophole that is being exploited for purposes not intended by the writers. It is important that when we talk to people about this we must not dwell on the controversy of it but why this is significant. It is easy to get so caught up in the controversy of a movement that the shift of why there is a fight goes out of focus.
If you want to be an ally visit bearsearscoalition.org. You can sign up for updates on this issue and even donate to stand the fight against this precious sacred land. You can make a difference.