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Native American tribes will co-manage Bears Ears National Monument with federal agencies

Jun 21, 2022, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:52 am
Bears Ears National Monument sign with the five Tribes' insignias on it....
The news Bears Ears National Monument sign that was unveiled after the signing of the agreement. Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management.

WHITE MESA, Utah — The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition signed an agreement Monday to commit to the co-management of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The signing comes months after President Joe Biden restored the monument‘s size and protections in Oct. 2021.

The agreement formalized the co-management of the monument between federal agencies and the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni.

“Today, instead of being removed from a landscape to make way for a public park, we are being invited back to our ancestral homelands to help repair them and plan for a resilient future. We are being asked to apply our traditional knowledge to both the natural and human-caused ecological challenges, drought, erosion, visitation, etc.,”  said Bears Ears Coalition Co-Chair and Lieutenant Governor of Zuni Pueblo Carleton Bowekaty.

“What can be a better avenue of restorative justice than giving Tribes the opportunity to participate in the management of lands their ancestors were removed from?” Bowekaty added.

The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition was founded in 2015 to address the monument’s needs through a plan rooted in an Indigenous perspective.

“This is an important step as we move forward together to ensure that Tribal expertise and traditional perspectives remain at the forefront of our joint decision-making for the Bears Ears National Monument. This type of true co-management will serve as a model for our work to honor the nation-to-nation relationship in the future,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

“This agreement outlines a common vision for management of Bear Ears National Monument and protection of these sacred lands that are important to so many,” said the USDA’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Dr. Homer Wilkes.

The BLM and the Forest Service also announced that both agencies would provide resources to each Tribe for their work.

The agencies and Tribes that signed the agreement also unveiled a new sign for the monument on Monday. The sign includes the insignias of the five Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Related: Indigenous leaders react to restoration of Bears Ears’ boundaries

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Native American tribes will co-manage Bears Ears National Monument with federal agencies