Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is speaking out against an expected recommendation by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to shrink the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.
“Our people fought for Bears Ears,” Begaye said in a statement Tuesday. The 1.35-million-acre monument was proclaimed by President Obama shortly before he left office. When President Trump took over, he ordered Zinke to review some two dozen national monuments for possible rescinding or downsizing, including Bears Ears. Zinke recently delivered his recommendations, but they have been kept secret. However, Zinke said previously that Bears Ears is too large. In a release, Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez say the monument came about after decades of lobbying by the governments of multiple sovereign Indian nations and should not be altered. The Begaye-Nez administration has promised to take action to fight any proposed reduction in the monument’s size.