Tribes Hope For Bears Ears Restoration Under Biden-Harris Administration

Dec 11, 2020

Navajo Nation leaders are calling for the full restoration of Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. The Trump administration drastically cut its size three years ago, but tribes hope the Biden-Harris administration will reverse the order. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Five Southwestern tribes are hoping Bears Ears National Monument will be restored to its original 2 million-acre size under the incoming Biden-Harris administration. 
Credit Bob Wick/BLM

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez along with several tribal officials in Utah want President-elect Joe Biden to reestablish the monument’s nearly 2-million-acre original size after he takes office next month.

“After years of litigation, the Department of Justice looks forward to the Navajo Nation having the opportunity to work with the other tribal parties and the Biden-Harris Administration in a collaboration of sovereigns to permanently restore protections to the lands and sites in Bears Ears, which have great significance to our culture, history, and way of life,” says Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul.

During the 2020 campaign, Biden signaled he may use the Antiquities Act to restore Bears Ears and the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which was shrunk by half. The former vice president has also suggested even more conservation designations in the West could be on their way.

The Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe say Bears Ears is their ancestral home and they depend on the land for traditional livelihoods and cultural practices. The tribes worry the area is in danger of energy development, looting and vandalism.

President Obama established Bears Ears near the end of his presidency in 2016. But the next year, President Trump reduced its size by 85%.