Recent Presidential proclamations will significantly reduce protected land at the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. The monuments were so designated by previous administrations under the Antiquities Act, a law designed to protect sacred sites, artifacts, and features of natural, cultural, or historical value. Five tribes – the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni Pueblo, Ute and Ute Mountain Indians – fought to create the Bears Ears Monument which, under the current proclamation, would be reduced by 80 percent. They are now united in opposition to the government’s intent to alter the monument, and have petitioned the courts to retain its protected status and preserve the remote area from further economic development.
Throughout American history Native Americans have struggled to protect their people, land, and way of life against the advancement of civilization. The Plains Indian tribes in 1867 gathered at Medicine Lodge Creek to participate in peace talks in the hopes of negotiating a “fair” settlement with the United States government.
The Medicine Lodge discussions began with high expectations on October 19, 1867. The Indians’ hopes for a fair settlement; however, would soon be shattered. Under the terms of the ensuing treaties (there would be three in all) the Kiowa, the Apache, and the Comanche were required to give up more than 60,000 square miles of their land in the Texas Panhandle in exchange for a reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) that would be situated between the North Fork of the Red River and the North Canadian River. – excerpt from Palo Duro.
In February of this year the Standing Rock Sioux failed in their efforts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline. Though the outcome of the current confrontation over tribal and federal claims to the land in Utah has yet to be decided, as previously stated in this blog (Standing Rock, 03/01/17) Indians historically have not fared well in disputes with the federal government.