(October 8, 2021)—Friends, this is a great day. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are restored!
As I watched the signing ceremony on YouTube, I was moved by so many things.
When Chair Brenda Mallory (White House Council on Environmental Quality) spoke these words—
“Thank you…for fighting to keep a simple but sacred promise: That in America, when we protect a place as a national monument, it is to be protected for all time, for all people”—
I found myself pumping my fist into the air.
And of course I got choked up as Interior Secretary Haaland spoke with such righteous emotion—especially when she said this, which resonates with unforgettable experiences in Bears Ears I’ve been blessed to have:
“It’s a place where you can stand in the doorway of a home where a family who lived thousands of years ago left behind a legacy of love and conservation for a place that sustained them for countless generations. … [E]vidence of lives well lived is as inseparable from Bears Ears as the air we breathe at this moment.”
Hearing Tribal co- and collaborative management heralded as an emerging and necessary standard, as when Haaland affirmed, “Today’s announcement, it’s not just about national monuments. It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with Tribal nations,” heightened my resolve to ensure that Archaeology Southwest continues striving toward a similar standard of collaboration.
Seeing the joyful faces of the Tribal leaders and government officials gathered around the president as he signed the three executive orders was truly moving. Their leadership and perseverance—and that of many others—were rewarded in a meaningful and substantive way today.
I urge you to read what the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Council, Utah Diné Bikeyah, Friends of Cedar Mesa, and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners have to say about this monumental occasion (I couldn’t help myself) and what’s on the horizon.
Yesterday evening, I shared a formal statement alongside those of our fellow plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the illegal monument reductions:
“President Biden’s restoration of contiguous landscape-scale protections for these national monuments and the diverse cultural and scientiﬁc values they hold is invigorating. It is a concrete demonstration of the Biden Administration’s stated commitment to listen to Tribes, respect ancestral lands, preserve heritage, and be guided by science. This is something to celebrate!”
And today, I feel even more invigorated, hopeful, and grateful. That’s why I’ve asked my team to enable free downloads of our Archaeology Southwest Magazine issues on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase. We’ll keep those free for the next week or so in celebration of this historic moment. (You can also scroll up and click on the magazine covers in the right-hand sidebar.) Please enjoy and share widely! We hope they help provide some additional context on how important today’s restoration of full protections is.
If you’d like to join us in thanking President Biden and Secretary Haaland, you can do that here via our friends at Monuments for All.