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Tribal leaders praise Biden’s restoration of Bears Ears National Monument


Tribal leaders are applauding President Joe Biden’s restoration of Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. The area has deep ancestral and cultural connections to several Native cultures in the Southwest. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition says President Biden’s order is an acknowledgement of Indigenous people’s original place in the U.S. The coalition is made up of the Navajo, Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes. For years they’ve fought for the restoration of Bears Ears, which contains thousands of ancestral, archaeological and sacred sites.

It was shrunk by 85% by former President Donald Trump in 2017 opening the area to oil, gas and mineral development. It’ll now return to its 1.35-million-acre original size along with an additional 12,000 acres added by Trump.

President Biden’s order also restores Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which was cut by half, as well as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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