Bears Ears National Monument designation disastrous for Utah grassroots Navajos
Apr 12, 2016 | 48914 views | 3 3 comments | 279 279 recommendations | email to a friend | print
by Rebecca M. Benally, San Juan Cty Commissioner

Trusting the federal government has historically resulted in broken promises for Native Americans.

As a Diné/Navajo woman, a resident of San Juan County and Commissioner, I speak in behalf of my constituents – the Grassroots Utah Navajos.

We strongly oppose the Bears Ears National Monument designation in San Juan County on our sacred and spiritual grounds.

Having hunted, gathered and raised our families in and around the Bears Ears buttes near Utah’s Navajo Nation, we do not agree with Native American tribes outside of Utah cutting deals with environmental groups.

While we local grassroots Navajo have to bear the consequences of these decisions, we must stand up and speak for ourselves.

We depend on these lands for our basic living, to gather medicinal plants, hunt, gather wood, gather pinion nuts and perform our cultural traditions.

We do not support any movement to convert our sacred lands to a monument that will ultimately be controlled by bureaucrats unfamiliar with our history and traditional ways.

The federal government has proven repeated broken promises of trust responsibilities and broken treaties, again and again and again for the last 200 years.

Environmental groups trying to sell the idea of a Bears Ears monument purport that the government will agree to allow both a continued access to our sacred lands and management by a Native American Advisory Council.

While the lure of a potential job managing the monument may be appealing to some Navajo, empirical evidence would suggest we should not be so quick to believe these promises.

Environmental groups have used the divide and conquer tactics among the Utah Navajos and other Native American tribes.

The federal government’s history of managing national monuments on sacred lands should serve as a reality check.

Native Americans got a raw deal with both the Canyon De Chelly National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument designations.

In Canyon De Chelly, the National Park Service removed more than 300 sets of remains and other cultural artifacts.

The Navajo Nation has been tied up in a lawsuit since the 1990s trying to regain custody of those remains at the National Park Service (NPS), and Department of Interior (DOJ) continues to defend the action.

Likewise, Navajo in Arizona’s Little Colorado River Valley saw their access to generational homesteads slowly disappear after the Wupatki National Monument was designated in 1924.

After generations of herding sheep in the area, Navajo were told by NPS that environmental group concerns took priority over their access to lands their families had managed since the 1870s.

Over time, NPS sought to limit both sheepherding and private property ownership.

By 2014, what was once a thriving community of hundreds of Navajo had become a series of abandoned homesteads and home to a single Navajo elderly woman, whose home will revert to federal ownership upon her death.

Despite promises that hunting and gathering will still be permitted and religious freedoms preserved in Bears Ears, we need to only look at the experience of the nearby Hopi Tribe at Wupatki.

After the federal government prosecuted tribal members of illegally taking golden eagles for religious ceremonies, the tribe must now apply for a limited number of federal permits to perform traditional ceremonies.

As Navajo who use the lands in and around the Bears Ears buttes every day, we deserve a voice in the management and future of the lands our families have called home for many generations.

While we recognize the allure of deep-pocketed environmental groups with their promises and potential jobs on a Native American Advisory Council, we reject the notion that groups outside of San Juan County should dictate the future of these lands or pretend to speak for us and have our best interest, but we know better.

We can speak for ourselves. Environmental groups, do not insult our intelligence.

We believe the long-term best interests of our community are best served by maintaining our existing access to the Bears Ears buttes, as we preserve and protect our sacred spiritual lands.
Comments
(3)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
JoanePappasWhite
|
April 20, 2016
Commissioner Benally's article is articulate, persuasive and dead right! As an elected official, she must remain civil. I am not limited by such constraints so I can be much more militant, a state of mind that we should all adopt.

Why would any of us believe a single thing the federal government and its tyrannical agencies tell us? Commissioner Benally points out that Native Americans have not fared well on the promises of the federal government. Every one of us would agree that her observation is a massive understatement. Are we doomed to repeat the past because we don't learn from it? A casual review of the current news demonstrates that the Cowboys are not doing any better today than the Native Americans did a century ago! Law abiding ranchers, without so much as a parking ticket on their records, are being executed on TV in cold blood by the FBI to silence their political protests, yet we do nothing to hold their executioners accountable?

It has reached a point in southern Utah where I believe we must assume that every representation being made to us from these federal agencies, at least at a policy level, is a lie, and the minute we try to cooperate in good faith, the real federal agenda comes to the surface. To give you an example, I need only point to the Grand Staircase National Monument. Skipping past the outright lies Clinton made to our Governor and Congressional Delegation, I shall concentrate on hundreds of endurance riders who participated in the Outlaw Trail Endurance ride for more than a dozen years. In order to save the ride, they participated in all the USFS hearings and presented evidence of the significance and value of the ride. The ride was grandfathered so it could remain as an annual activity. The system worked --- NOT! It took less than one year for the agency to implement their plan to defeat the ride -- and any other activity that they chose to regulate out of existence. They created the 10 heartbeat rule! The ride could take place provided that collectively there were no more than 10 heartbeats in the group. The dogs, horses and the people all count. Kiss the ride goodby. The entire process was a lie from its inception. We all knew it with hindsight but how does one get out of these sham agency games?

After the Grand Staircase was forced down our throats, counties like Wayne (97% federal land) found they literally have no control over their own destinies. They have no tax base to provide services or infrastructure but are being overrun by tourists, which is neither cost effective nor beneficial in many instances.

In my 36 years as an attorney in southeastern Utah, I find absolutely no basis to believe that the federal government intends to deal with us in good faith. I recall being shocked as a young attorney to learn that the Feds' Atomic Energy Commission knew they were exposing our uranium miners to almost certain death but told them nothing of the risks, in spite of Dr. Saccomanno's constant memos warning the AEC of the risks. I watched dozens of our clients die from radon exposure during the administrative reviews, which were ridiculously burdensome. An entire generation of Grandfathers was missing from the reservation, yet it took years to get the admission that the Feds had been experimenting on the uranium miners an, in reality, on all of us downwinders in southern Utah.

I remember that ranchers whose sheep were dying from radiation exposure in southwestern Utah were persecuted for suggesting that the deaths were caused by underground testing in Nevada. Every dirty trick the feds could use to discredit those people, was used, even though the men in those agencies knew they were lying to us.

In the 1970s, I remember being told at the original meetings that the wilderness act would only affect roadless places untouched by man! However, when a citizen would try and discuss multiple use of the public lands, the Saul Alinsky propaganda techniques were immediately used to belittle and isolate anyone who dissented to wilderness at the public hearings. The biggest invasion of private property rights in this country has been committed in the name of the abusive triple whammy -- the Endangered Species Act, The Environmental Protection Act and the Antiquities Act. What U.S. citizen would have believed that the BLM could have become the Gestapo overnight with criminal goons like Daniel Love at the helm? The man should have been in federal prison since 2009, yet he was promoted by the BLM, an agency expressly prohibited by federal law from creating its own enforcement goons like Love.

I could go on with endless examples of over-reaching federal agencies; however, it is my hope that these few examples will remind all of you that our good faith and political naivety have been used against us at every turn for almost 40 years. This is a fight for our way of life and it is time to quit playing the federal games, like environmental impact studies and other such meaningless distractions, and start dismantling these executive branch agencies from the top down. Do not voluntarily give up one inch of Bear Ears to any further federal control. You win this game by not playing it. Start your own game with your own rules -- local rules.

Joane Pappas White

Attorney at Law

Price, Utah
BrotherPatriot
|
December 29, 2016
Mrs. White-

Excellent post.

I shook LaVoy's hand once...looked into his bright, smiling eyes and knew that I was looking at a Good man.

I will never forget that moment.

People really need to Awaken faster...and reduce the entire government back into a limited & confined necessary evil, as it was intended to be.

All the government is going to keep doing is grow it's power at the expense of it's people.

Eventually...America will no longer resemble how it was intended to be.

Regarding immigration.

We have immigration laws for a reason and all that needs to happen is enforce those laws, otherwise...

America is like a glass of orange juice and all the illegals that Barry Seotoro (also known as Barack Obama) and the rest have been funneling into our country, is like a pitcher of water.

Keep pouring that pitcher of water into the glass of orange juice and soon you will no longer have a glass of orange juice.

This is as planned by our corrupt "public servants" who are really but puppets for those that pull their strings from behind their curtain of secrecy.

Seriously...Awaken faster America and people of the earth.

The NWO is a very real, credible threat to each and everyone of us. The Georgia Guidestones talks about their dream to have only 500 million people...which would be contained in about 6 to 12 cities across the globe. Leaving the rest of the world as their oyster for those that follow the Agenda to bring about their one world, totalitarian government.

If this were to happen, that would mean roughly 12 out of every 13 people would need to die.

This should scare each and everyone of us and help bring us together against our common foe.

Like George Carlin said, "It's a club...and your not in it."

For there is a conspiracy afoot that is so vast it defies that it even exists, but exist it does.

These people, buried like ticks in the body of Humanity, happen to have a similar belief system that believes in an ancient, pagan, mystery religion that ultimately revere's Lucifer the Light Bearer.

It's ALL about the Eternal Struggle between Good & Evil.

In the end, you can only serve one of the two Masters.

HOOYAH & God Bless the Restoration of the Republic.
beartrace
|
April 19, 2016
Create a special services district ("SSD") in San Juan county with a charter & bylaws that only permit the Dine/Navajo to operate Bears Ears under terms specifically set forth in the charter/bylaws protecting the land. Perhaps the State would back the SSD. At a minimum the Dine/Navajo people could almost immediately begin official stewardship of the land which would the provide a strong argument against the Federal over reaching bureaucracy.
The San Juan Record welcomes comments on our stories. Please be civil, respectful, focused and humane. Postings are not edited and are the responsibility of the author. You agree not to post comments that are abusive, threatening or obscene. Postings may be removed at the discretion of sjrnews.com