Thursday, March 23, 2017

Native Americans prepare to battle Trump over Utah national monument

When word came down on Dec. 28 that President Barack Obama had created a 1.35 million-acre national monument called Bears Ears, Jonah Yellowman celebrated. So did leaders of his Navajo people and other tribes that rarely have much to cheer about, such as the Hopi, Ute and Zuni. Yet the festivities did not last long. Angered at Obama, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other Republicans quickly lobbied President Donald Trump to rescind or scale back the monument. For Yellowman, such a reversal would represent a historic betrayal. He and other activists have spent years trying to protect Bears Ears and its cliff dwellings and other antiquities. "People are target shooting at our rock carvings," said Yellowman, a Navajo elder. "They are cutting out our pictographs, our stories, and taking them away and selling them." Across the West and beyond, Native Americans are resisting the administration on multiple fronts. In North Dakota, two tribes have filed lawsuits against Trump's approval of the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline, which skirts the Standing Rock reservation. Tribes are fighting oil and gas projects in Texas, Oklahoma and other states. While Native Americans have long organized to counter perceived threats, Trump's election has made it "more visceral," said David Rich Lewis, a historian at Utah State University who specializes in tribal environmental issues. Trump has a history of clashing with tribes over casinos and other developments. He also has vowed to open up more federal lands to energy development, including those in and around Indian Country. More recently, he has embraced as a hero former President Andrew Jackson, a leading advocate of "Indian removal" in the American West...more

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