Haaland Visits Utah with an Eye on Sacred Indigenous Monuments | Indigenous rights news

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U.S. Home Secretary Deb Haaland will begin a two-day visit to Utah on Thursday where she will meet with tribes and politicians to discuss the potential restoration of two national monuments that have been cut in size by the former President Donald Trump in order to open them. mining and drilling.
The visit is the centerpiece of Haaland’s first multi-state tour since his confirmation last month as the first Native American cabinet member, and will hold symbolic power given the significance of the monuments to the tribes of the southwest.

Haaland, whose job gives him oversight of America’s vast public and tribal lands, will travel to San Juan and Kane counties in Utah to discuss the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments as part of a review of their borders launched by Joe Biden on the Democrat. first day of the president in office, according to the Interior Ministry.

The view of Comb Ridge is pictured in the Bears Ears area of ​​Utah in the Four Corners, Utah region on December 18, 2016 [File: Annie Knox/Reuters]

Trump had reduced the size of the two once massive monuments by 8,000 square kilometers (two million acres) combined at the behest of Republican lawmakers in Utah, removing protections that had hampered farming, drilling, mining and other developments in an area twice the size of the US state of Rhode Island.

Several Native American tribes in the region consider the areas sacred and are home to thousands of important cultural and archaeological sites. They will ask Haaland to restore protections cut by Trump and expand them further, according to Pat Gonzales-Rogers, director of the Inter-Tribal Coalition.

“We are consistent in what we ask. The original tribal proposal and a way to make it permanent, ”he said.

Former President Barack Obama created the 5,260 km2 (1.3 million acres) Bears Ears National Monument in 2016 under the US Antiquities Act after the tribes initially proposed that the site cover 7,689 km2 ( 1.9 million acres). Trump reduced it to about 809 km2 (200,000 acres).

Grand Staircase-Escalante, was created by former President Bill Clinton in 1996 over 7,689 km2 (1.9 million acres) and was roughly halved by Trump.

Bears Ears, the twin rock formations that are part of the Bears Ears National Monument in the Four Corners area, are pictured in Utah on May 16, 2017 [File: Bob Strong/Reuters]

Under the Antiquities Law, presidents have the power to unilaterally create or modify national monuments, making their protection uncertain over time.

The Home Office said administration officials held tribal consultations and held talks in advance with Republican state officials.

Republican Governor of Utah Spencer Cox, Senator Mitt Romney and Congressman John Curtis also met with tribal leaders from the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian nations in an attempt to achieve a compromise ahead of Haaland’s visit, Romney spokeswoman Arielle said. Mueller.

“During the meeting, Senator Romney reiterated his desire to find a permanent legislative solution to the political football of Utah’s national monuments,” she said.

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