Friday, September 23, 2016

Anti-monument rally: 'Please don't take this land from us'

Utah's congressional delegation, Gov. Gary Herbert and some Navajo residents from San Juan County made a direct plea to President Barack Obama on Wednesday to refrain from designating the Bears Ears region a national monument. The press conference Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol was live-streamed on Sen. Mike Lee's Facebook page, generating hundreds of simultaneous comments as monument opponents urged that the southeastern Utah region be left alone by the president. "Native Americans have given up enough of their ancestral lands for national monuments," said Susie Philemon. "President Obama, we the local native residents of San Juan County, Utah, have managed to protect this enchanted place and will continue to do so. Please do not take this land from us. … Please don’t break more promises … not again." Philemon paused with emotion in her direct appeal and spoke of the sacred nature of the rugged country to Native Americans. "President Obama, if you take this sacred place from us and make it a national monument, you are not only taking the center stone but you are also taking a sacred homeland from us. It puts a heavy burden on our hearts to think it will be a decision of one person to forever deprive us from having a physical connection to our spiritual sites," she said. A reporter at the press conference asked if Utah's political leaders believe the ink is already drying on the presidential proclamation and if their pleas are too little, too late. "I don't think it is inevitable," Herbert said. "That is why we are here." Herbert is to meet with the Bureau of Land Management's national director, Neil Kornze, on Thursday and emphasized that if the federal government believes the area needs greater protections, the agency should respond with stepped up management in lieu of a unilateral decision. "If you really care about protections, there are ways to do it with the Bureau of Land Management," he said...more

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