President Trump will fly to Utah on Monday to announce that he’ll shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
Environmentalists and tribes have vowed to seek legal action to stop any changes, which they don’t believe are authorized under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
“The tribes view this as an affront to themselves and their own self-determination,” said Natalie Landreth, senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. “All of us, all five tribes will be suing jointly the day he makes an announcement.”
Five tribes, including the Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and the Ute Indian Tribe, make up the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition that advocated for the monument, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
Former President Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears site a national monument towards the end of his administration. The national monument is home to more than 100,000 archaeological sites as well as a trove of important artifacts related to the Pueblo and Navajo tribes. The land is considered a sacred place by the Navajo, Hopi, Uintah & Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, which is home to a number of archaeological sites, pictographs, and artifacts of some of the first people to inhabit the region, could have its protections “trimmed by half.”
“This illegal action will cement Trump’s legacy as one of the worst presidents in modern history,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump has no clue how much people love these sacred and irreplaceable landscapes, but he’s about to find out. He’s shown his blatant disregard for public lands, Native Americans and the law. We look forward to seeing him in court.”
The Center for Western Priorities said Trump’s action would be the largest rollback of protections for lands and wildlife in U.S. history.
“The president is capping his celebration of Native American Heritage Month by opening the door to new drilling and mining on land considered sacred by tribal nations,” said the group’s executive director Jennifer Rokala. “After his appalling remarks at the White House on Monday, President Trump’s assault on tribal interests continues at a staggering pace.”
The decision to shrink the monuments stemmed from an Interior Department review of 27 large national monuments ordered by President Trump.
President Trump used the racial slur “Pocahontas” to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during a White House event honoring Native American veterans on Monday.
During the event honoring three Navajos who helped the U.S. Marine Corps develop a secret code during WWII, Trump said: “You were here long before any of us were here.”
Pres. Trump at event honoring Native American code talkers: "We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas." https://t.co/BnGk3GW3cy pic.twitter.com/SOGoXEIT6d
— ABC News (@ABC) November 27, 2017
“Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas,” he added.
“The reference is using a historic American Indian figure as a derogatory insult and that’s an insult to all American Indians,” said John Norwood, the general secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes.
Norwood said Trump should “stop using our historical people of significance as a racial slur against one of his opponents.”