As part of an abbreviated 15-day comment period, more than 680,000 comments have been submitted online in support of the Bears Ears National Monument to the Department of the Interior.
“Our sovereign nations spoke with one voice in support of the Bears Ears National Monument. This comment process makes it clear that all of the American people have joined us in solidarity to continue fighting to protect this living landscape,” stated Carleton Bowekaty, Zuni Councilman and Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Co-Chair, a coalition of five sovereign Tribal Nations – Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute, and the Pueblo of Zuni.
The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition comments were submitted on May 25, 2017. The comments and the original proposal can be found on http://bearsearscoalition.org/.
“This monument also protects the heritage of the Tribes who have had ties to this place since time immemorial. This arbitrary review and inadequate comment period is no substitute for government to government consultation and for working with the Bears Ears Commission by properly honoring the Bears Ears National Monument,” stated Davis Filfred, a Navajo Nation Council Delegate who represents the Aneth, Red Mesa, Teec Nos Pos, and Mexican Water Chapters in Utah. “We will continue to push for a new era in public land management where our people and our traditional uses and access are honored.”
“The purpose of the Antiquities Act is to set aside and preserve places like the first National Monument, the Grand Canyon, and Bears Ears National Monument, for generations to come and protect them from destructive exploitation. These are federal lands and belong to all of us, including the first of us, the Hopi, Zuni, Ute and Navajo peoples,” stated Herman G. Honanie, Chairman of The Hopi Tribe. “President Obama acted to protect this landscape, and we continue to urge the current President and Department of Interior to preserve this imperiled resource as a National Monument for time immemorial.”
The number of comments is based on an analysis of the publicly available comments and feedback from dozens of organizations representing those who support the Tribes’ efforts to protect their ancestral lands and sacred sites – including outdoor recreation businesses, historic preservation, faith communities, sportsmen, and conservation groups. This does not reflect the thousands of comments that have been mailed in, or the number of Native Americans left out of this process due to lack of internet access on reservation lands.
This comment period followed the president’s executive order to review national monuments. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke initiated a 15-day comment period for the Bears Ears National Monument (in contrast, the other national monuments being reviewed have a 60-day comment period). The aggregated comments have been uploaded to the regulations.gov comment docket DOI-2017-0002. Due to the how the federal government tracks comments, batch uploads may not reflect the full number of comments, creating the appearance of a discrepancy between the number listed on the site versus the number of comments submitted.