Five Native American tribes have pledged to sue US President Donald Trump over his decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
President Trump announced on Monday that he was reducing Bears Ears from 1.3 million acres to 228,784 acres (53,000 sq km to 926 sq km), meaning it will be just 15 percent of its original size. He also revealed that the Grand Staircase-Escalante will also be reduced by nearly half.
The decisions sparked a strong reaction from Native American groups in the region with five of them announcing that they will be collectively suing the president in an attempt to reverse the decision.
“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue,” President Russell Begaye of the Navajo Nation said in a statement. “The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region.”
“The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”
Bears Ears was declared a monument by President Barack Obama less than a year ago. In a speech accompanying Monday’s decision President Trump accused his predecessor of using a 1906 law to “lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.”
“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to far away bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here, and make this place their home,” the president said.
Representatives from the Navajo, Hopi, Uintah, Ute and Zuni Tribes, as well as people from non-profits and citizen groups, gathered outside Utah’s State Capitol to protest against Trump’s order. The five tribes quickly announced they would be taking the president to court over the decision.
“This is a sad day for indigenous people and for America. However, we are resilient and refuse to allow President Trump’s unlawful decision to discourage us. We will continue to fight in honor of our ancestral warriors who fought for our way of life, for our culture and for our land too,” President Begaye declared.