Tribes Sue Trump Over Bears Ears

President Trump’s decision to gut the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent won’t pass without a fight.

Tribes Sue Trump Over Bears Ears

Yesterday, Donald Trump did exactly what everyone knew he’d do. The predictable bureaucrat signed away 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument.

But his decision, broadly opposed by the outdoors industry, tribal leaders, and millions of Americans, will soon be headed to court.

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Before the ink dried on Trumps executive order, the Navajo Nation joined the Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe in filing a complaint against the Trump administration to halt his undoing of Bears Ears.

Bears Ears: Years In The Making, Unraveled In Months

The five tribes formed a coalition that, along with many interested parties, worked for the designation of the monument in 2016. President Obama’s decision to designate the monument came after years of extensive outreach and coordination with the five Coalition Tribes.

Preserved native dwellings at Bears Ears; Photo by Josh Ewing

The Tribes argue in their complaint that President Trump violated the Antiquities Act. They also claim that his action is unconstitutional.

Under the Constitution, Congress has exclusive authority to make decisions regarding property belonging to the United States, claim the tribes.

According to the tribes’ complaint:

Through the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated to the President the limited authority to designate national monuments and retained to itself the power to revoke or modify national monuments. The Proclamation signed by President Trump today is so extreme that it revokes and replaces Bears Ears and thereby violates the Antiquities Act and seizes authority that the Constitution vests solely in Congress. The Tribes argue this overreach by the President should be declared unlawful and be enjoined to prevent its implementation.

Other Lawsuits Expected

Outdoor brand Patagonia is expected to also file a lawsuit against Trump’s Bears Ears decision. The brand has staunchly opposed the modification of Bears Ears since Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution in February urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument.

Patagonia opposed reducing the size of Bears Ears because the brand says there is broad support for public land, the outdoors industry relies on public lands, and that states have historically sold off public lands to private interests.

Other groups expected to file suit are Friends of Cedar Mesa, Utah Dine Bikeyah, and Archaeology Southwest.

These groups have not yet filed the lawsuits.

Tribal Support For Bears Ears

The President’s actions came after months of tribal leaders expressing opposition to his proposal to shrink the monument. The general public also chimed in, largely supporting the national monuments.

During these months the public submitted about 685,000 comments in support of the monument, the tribes said. Despite this outpouring of support, the President dismantled the monument.

Zinke To Visit Bears Ears, Solicits Public Comment

The complaint filed today with the Washington, D.C., District Court alleges President Trump was without legal authority to take this action.

“Bears Ears has been home to Native peoples since time immemorial,” stated Ethel Branch, attorney for the Navajo Nation. “The actions taken by President Trump have exposed Bears Ears to devastating damage. President Trump states he consulted with Native peoples, but if that were true, the five Tribes would not be filing this complaint. Our leadership has been unified in its opposition to any changes to the monument and in its commitment to defending the monument.”

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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