Biden restored the borders of the Bears Ears monuments in southern Utah, Grand Staircase–Escalante monuments elsewhere in Utah, and added protections to the Northeast Canyons monuments and Seamounts monuments on Friday.
The Bears Ears National Monument was established by President Barack Obama just before his departure. Grand Staircase will also be returned to 1.36m acres.
Obama established the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast in 2016 to be the first marine national monument in Atlantic Ocean.
Biden stated that “this may be the most simple thing I’ve ever made as president,” in remarks to the White House Friday afternoon, where he signed three executive order.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haland called Biden’s actions to restore the land “profound.”
Haaland stated that Bears Ears was a living landscape. “This place must be preserved in perpetuity for every American child and every child around the globe.
She stated that the president’s actions “write a new chapter that embraces Indigenous wisdom, ensures tribal leaders have a seat at table and shows that we can work together to build a brighter tomorrow for all of us.”
NPR’s Mark Maryboy, a former leader of Navajo tribes, said that the Trump administration’s reversal is cause to celebrate, given the cultural connections that tribes have with this land.
These are just a few of the things that Navajos value and take into consideration. It is a part their religion. Maryboy stated that it is just like a church for the Anglo population.
NPR’s Shaun Chapoose, the chairman of Ute Indian Tribe, stated that “it was important that we preserve our cultural identity.”
“When you go out here, you will find Hopi remnants. Chapoose stated that we have an obligation to safeguard this.
It is possible that the legal battles are not over
Donald Trump, then-President, signed an executive order in 2017 that drastically reduced Bears Ears’ size by 85% and cut Grand Staircase by half. It was the largest reverse of U.S. land memorial protections in American history.
Many Native tribes consider the land sacred, including Hopi Tribes, Hopi Tribes, Ute Indian Tribes, Ute Mountain Ute Tribes and Pueblo of Zuni. This area is full of artifacts, ancient camping areas, and burial grounds.
Trump administration was sued by tribal and environmental leaders. However, the lawsuit was put on hold after Biden issued an executive directive in January to investigate further.
But Biden’s decision may not prevent future lawsuits.
Utah Gov. Republican Spencer Cox has stated that his state would sue Biden for unilaterally restoring the land. Instead, Cox has advocated that the land’s status be handled through a bill in Congress.
“Can we agree to some problems? Can they agree to some issues? Can we reach a peaceful solution so that we don’t have to fight this battle for twenty years or 25 years? Cox stated.
Chapoose stated that the Utah congressional leaders are only supportive of a bill from Congress if they approve it on their terms.
Chapoose stated, “The state Utah is likely to throw a tantrum.” It’s just the usual song and dance.” It’s the same song and dance as everyone else.
Haaland, Interior Secretary, plays a crucial role in the monuments issue
Tribal leaders have been increasing pressure on Biden in recent weeks to sign executive orders.
Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in U.S. History, visited southern Utah in April to inspect both monuments and meet with elected officials.
Haaland stated that “How we manage public land and national monuments are important — not only to the Tribes, ranchers, elected leaders and other people I met this week but to many generations to follow,” Haaland added.
As requested by the January executive order, Haaland submitted her report about restoring the lands. According to the Washington Post, Haaland’s report was not publicly available and recommended that the president restore the land.
Chapoose stated that having Haaland at the Interior Department made it easier for the conversation about the topic to flow.
He said that he was trying to understand the context of entire histories or an understanding, but not in terms they can comprehend.
He said, “With [Haaland], it’s been lived,”