Tribes to federal government: stop ignoring us about Bears Ears

SALT LAKE CITY -- On Tuesday in the halls of Congress, Bears Ears National Monument was a "catastrophe," and the subject of a hearing about "overreach" with the Antiquities Act.

On Wednesday at the National Press Club, the Monument was a historic statement, giving American Indians a say in the management and protection of sacred lands.

The congressional hearing was a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee chaired by Utah Representative Rob Bishop.

The Press Club event was held by leaders from four of the five tribes in the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition.

Bishop used his time at the subcommittee hearing to critique the economic consequences of setting monument land aside.

"Will one more national monument help [San Juan] county prosper?" Bishop asked Kathleen Clarke, Utah's Public Lands Director, who was testifying before the committee.

"Absolutely not," Clarke replied.

Lorenzo Bates, the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, said Bishop and other political leaders were acting like the tribal governments had no authority to speak for their people.

"We stand here together today with one voice to tell leadership at the federal level to recognize and to honor our position as sovereign nations," Bates said.