This Week in Bears Ears News: Jan. 15-21, 2018

A smattering of stories from the Bears Ears beat:

All are welcome to visit Bears Ears - The Journal (Cortez, CO), 1/15/18

In our first news roundup of 2018, we shared a feisty tit-for-tat from the editorial page of Monticello, Utah's San Juan Record. The above letter continues the conversation between the residents of San Juan County, Utah and the "outsiders" who love Bears Ears. 

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This Week in Bears Ears News: Jan. 8-14, 2018

A sampling of stories from the Bears Ears beat:

Some Monumental Issues - Archaeology Southwest, 1/8/18

Archaeologist Bill Lipe has spent more than 50 years working in the American Southwest and is one of the foremost experts on the archaeology of the Bears Ears region. In this piece, he makes the case for preservation of the entire Bears Ears cultural landscape, not merely the best-known archaeological sites. A good read and well worth 15 minutes of your time.

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Bears Ears: The Future of Bluff, Part 2

When we spoke with residents of Bluff, Utah last month about their decision to incorporate as a town, the original Bears Ears National Monument established in December 2016 by Barack Obama was still intact. Bluff, a tiny community of 250 or so people in Utah’s southeastern corner that lay just outside the monument, was still widely expected to become the de facto gateway to Bears Ears. But that was before the Trump trip.

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Bears Ears After Trump: Separating Fact From Fiction

“Land grab.”  “Local people.” “Left behind.”

These are some of the words and phrases that opposing sides have wielded as weapons against one another in the battle for the future of Bears Ears National Monument. In the weeks since President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order shrinking Bears Ears by 85 percent and reducing another controviersial Utah monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante, by nearly half, the rhetoric has reached a fever pitch.

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This Week in Bears Ears News: Dec. 11-17 and Dec. 18-24

A sampling of stories from the Bears Ears beat:

Zinke, House GOP escalate feud with Patagonia over shrinking of national monuments - Associated Press via Denver Post, 12/11/17

After outdoor retail giant Patagonia published an attention-grabbing message in response to President Trump's shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and House GOP leaders fought back. 

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This Week in Bears Ears News: Trump Executive Order Edition

Well, folks, it really happened. Yesterday, during a whirlwind trip to Utah, President Trump signed an Executive Order shrinking Bears Ears National Monument from 1.35 million acres to 202,000 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from 1.9 million acres to just over 1 million acres. So what happens now? Let us break it down for you. 

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Bears Ears: The Future of Bluff, Part 1

Tiny Bluff, Utah sits on the edge of Bears Ears National Monument - and at the heart of the hotly contested debate over the monument’s future. National publicity has drawn more people to Bluff, which has branded itself as the “Proud Gateway to Bears Ears." But can the community find a way to grow to meet tourist demand while maintaining its unique character? Read on...

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This Week in Bears Ears News: Nov. 20-26

Below is a sampling of stories from the past week representing the latest developments in the fight for the future of Bears Ears National Monument.

Trump to visit Salt Lake City on Monday, will announce a smaller Bears Ears and Grand Staircase - Salt Lake Tribune, 11/28/17

In a highly anticipated announcement, the White House confirmed that President Trump would visit Utah on Monday, Dec. 4 to officially announce his plans to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The President will instead make the announcement from Salt Lake City and is not expected to stay the night in Utah. Cue numerous lawsuits promised by Native tribes and conservation organizations. Things are about to get very litigious. 

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Rebecca Robinson
This Week in Bears Ears News: Nov. 12-18

Our Inboxes runneth over with headlines about the latest developments in the fight for the future of Bears Ears National Monument. Below is a sampling of stories from the past week that will get you up to speed:

Trump may cut Bears Ears size by 90 percent, top Hatch staffer says - KSL, 11/15/17

Grand Staircase-Escalante monument will be pruned by half, Hatch official says - Salt Lake Tribune, 11/14/17

Justice Department won’t release national monument documents - Captial Press, 11/17/17

(NOTE: new to the Bears Ears saga? Start here.

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Rebecca Robinson
From A to Zinke: A Beginner's Guide to the Bears Ears Saga

One of the greatest challenges of this project has been trying to explain what our work is about to those unfamiliar with the story we have been following for well over two years. In this blog, and with our books, we are trying to create that space to provide context that is missing from many news stories and to humanize what can be complex and wonky issues. With that in mind, let's take a whirlwind tour of the Bears Ears cultural and political landscape.

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Context and Subtext: Mormon Theology Edition

Reverence for nature and a calling to take from the earth only what is needed is enshrined in Mormon theology, and, on a personal level, Anglo-Mormon residents of San Juan County express a deep spiritual attachment to the canyons, rivers, mesas, and wide- open spaces of their homeland. Nonetheless, the anti-environmentalist stance of Utah’s most outspoken politicians, many of whom are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has led many not unfamiliar with LDS teachings to assume Mormons in rural Utah lack strong ties to the land or an ethos of environmental stewardship. Yet as is often the case with religion, the tension lies between doctrine and how its adherents choose to interpret it.

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Context and Subtext: Native Cosmology Edition

It is impossible to understand the complex blend of cultures, the powerful connection to the land, and the political landscape that informs the Bears Ears debate without an awareness of the deeply held religious beliefs of Natives and Mormons. 

To Native Americans in the Bears Ears region and indigenous peoples around the world, the earth is a living, breathing entity: a nurturer, life-giver, and beloved family member to be treated with unconditional respect.

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Will San Juan County's Leaders Embrace Tourism?

The county is the poorest in the state, and revenues from extractive industries and ranching are declining while the infrastructure needs are significant. The toxic mix of strong emotions and deep uncertainty make progress on an inclusive and sustainable economic development plan problematic at best. Will leaders find a way to put politics aside and rise to the challenge?

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A Monumental Opportunity for Grassroots Economic Development

“The recreation economy is coming to San Juan County,” says Korenblat, who owns Western Spirit Cycling in Moab. “They can do all they want to try to stop it, but it’s already happening. What they do have the opportunity to do is to shape it and control it and turn it into what they want it to become.”

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Bears Ears Exhibition in Gallery 4 at the Gilbert Museum

This exhibit draws together both a visual evocation of a newly declared national monument – Bears Ears, at the heart of the Colorado Plateau – and the voices of those who have fought to shape its future.

We are honored to have Stephen Strom, Eric escheenie, and Alfred Lomahquahu join us at Gallery 4 in the Gilbert Museum to discuss Bears Ears on Tuesday, October 10 from 6pm to 8pm.

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San Juan County: A Road to Renewal

As with any place worth exploring, it is impossible to quantify the beauty of San Juan County’s landscapes, or the richness of its indigenous and Anglo cultures. But the debate over the designation of Bears Ears National Monument encompassed more than just the county’s ineffable qualities; it brought to the fore the county’s economic struggles, and how choices its leaders make in the near future could help or hinder its fortunes for years to come.

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Bears Ears: The Tribes' Next Steps

Tribal leaders fully recognize both the opportunity presented by Obama’s action and the political challenges confronting them. Zuni Councilman and Coalition co-chair Carleton Bowekaty says the tribes are prepared to surmount what may be considerable obstacles to success.

“There’s going to be a lot of roadblocks, there’s going to be a lot of issues, but we have plenty of knowledge, [and] we have longevity in mind,” Bowekaty says. “Our view is long range.”

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Letter to America - Reflections on Red Rock Country

The shock, confusion, anger, and grief felt and expressed by many Americans post-election was coupled (for some) with a realization of the essential need to reach across ideological and cultural divides to find common ground. The battle over Bears Ears illustrates the wrenching difficulties facing those who try to reconcile differences among groups with diametrically opposed views on many issues. In San Juan County, those differences are amplified by complex and oft-painful history laden with racism, religious persecution, and conflicts over land ownership and stewardship. 

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