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A New Bill in DC Would Overturn Antiquities Act

A New Bill in DC Would Overturn Antiquities Act
October 13
10:27 2017


WINDOW ROCK, AZ – The House Natural Resources Committee considered ​a bill on Wednesday, Oct. 11, that would give the President of the United States the authority to reduce the size of previously declared National Monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument. H.B. 3990 was introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) on October 6, and would make a number of other major changes to the Antiquities Act in addition to expanding Presidential authority.

“The Bears Ears National Monument is extremely important to the livelihoods and cultural practices of the local Navajo people, and to members of the Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribes as well,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “The Monument as designated by the Obama administration honors those uses and that history. We do not want to see that taken away from the Native people of this region.”

On August 24, 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a report recommending that Bears Ears and several other National Monuments be greatly reduced in size. That report ignores what H.B. 3990 acknowledges: the President does not have authority under current law to reduce the size of a previously designated National Monument.

The Navajo Nation is part of a five tribe coalition that worked with the Obama Administration to have Bears Ears National Monument declared in December 2016. The Monument declaration incorporates a Bears Ears Commission made up of Commissioners from five tribes whose members continue to use the Monument for cultural and religious purposes to this day: Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Zuni Tribe. This tribal coalition continues to work together to defend the Monument.

“We will continue to work together to fight against any reduction in size of Bears Ears,” Vice President Nez said. “This land protected our Navajo ancestors from the incursion of property theft and forced removal by the Spaniards and Americans. We must protect these lands that shielded our tribes.”

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