What Native Americans Stand to Lose If Trump Opens Up Public Lands for Business – Pacific Standard

What Native Americans Stand to Lose If Trump Opens Up Public Lands for Business – Pacific Standard

“Public lands will once again be for public use,” Trump said on Monday, rehashing the myth that the national monument status limited individuals access to the land. When the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition was campaigning in 2016 for national protected status for what would become the Bears Ears National Monument, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested tribes didn’t know what was good for them. “The Indians, they don’t fully understand that a lot of the things that they currently take for granted on those lands, they won’t be able to do if it’s made clearly into a monument or a wilderness,” Hatch told the Salt Lake City Tribune. When asked for specific examples, he added: “That’d take too much time. Just take my word for it.”

But Obama’s presidential proclamation that created the Bears Ears monument only prohibited three things, according to Landreth: looting, off-trail ATV use, and mining and gas exploration. “The Obama administration put in a paragraph that specifically preserved hunting and fishing rights for people, grazing leases, gathering rights, rights to even take firewood for ceremonial uses,” she says. “When I was listening to them talk about it yesterday, it felt like, wait a minute, did they actually read the proclamation or are they deliberately being untruthful?”

Beyond the threat to cultural resources, the Ute Tribe is familiar with the negative health effects that all too often accompany development of extractive industries. “As the residents of the nearest community to the nation’s last remaining conventional uranium mill at white Mesa, Utah, our people continue to suffer under the toxic legacy of uranium mining, milling, and uranium waste processing,” Harold Cuthair, the chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, wrote in a 2016 letter urging Obama to designate Bears Ears as a national monument to put a stop to any current and future mining. “Paramount to the Tribe is our concern for the future of, and our rights to, our water, air, lands and the continuing effects of the mill on our people.”

via What Native Americans Stand to Lose If Trump Opens Up Public Lands for Business – Pacific Standard