Today, local leaders from San Juan County and Utah elected officials from across the state held a rally to demonstrate a strong, unified front in opposition to a potential declaration of the Bears Ears National Monument.
San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally said her constituents do not want another national monument in the County. This monument would only represent division.
It is time we do this the right way through the congressional approach said, Congressman Rob Bishop.
This flys in the face of the constitution said, Sen. Orrin Hatch. We need the consent of the people most affected,
The best way to protect Bears Ears is through a legislative process said, Gov. Gary Herbert
The people of this state oppose a unilateral designation of a national monument. According to a Utah Policy poll, 60 percent of Utahns are opposed to 1.9 million acres being declared federal land in the Bears Ears area in southeastern Utah.
A monument declaration is absent of local support with every elected official chosen to represent the people of San Juan County and the State of Utah.
San Juan Commissioner Rebecca M. Benally explains why her people do not want this monument. Watch the video here.
“Brothers and sisters, I stand here before you as a Native American woman, the first elected woman in San Juan County. I am here today to tell you that my constituents do not want a national monument in San Juan County, because it’s just another federal overreach with empty promises.
As a Native American, we understand what broken treaties mean and broken promises; we’ve lived it for the last 200 years. So what makes you think, President Obama, that you think you’re doing the right thing? All you’re doing is breaking up families using divide and conquer among my brothers and sisters, San Juan County residents, the State of Utah.
Your legacy I hope we can soon forget because you’re not doing it for the local people. So I’m here today to tell you that Grandma Jones, Grandma Ada Benally, they shed tears because this is a place of reverent spirituality where they gather medicinal plants, wood to heat their home and cook, hunt; you’re taking that away. There is no such a thing as a special proclamation that can be done by the president. This is a Congressional authority that has to happen.
You’ve been lied to by environmental groups. Environmental groups, I’m here to tell you: stop romanticizing and stop pretending. And stop pretending that you are doing this for Native American people. I’ve seen it time and time again. It is wrong and I’m tired of you using my people, talking for them, it is wrong that you do this. Come to San Juan County where we still have over 700 miles of dirt road and high high school dropout rates, unemployment. Put your mind and money to better use instead of making people work against one another. That’s wrong.
I want to tell you about trust. There is no trust. We as Native Americans do not trust the federal government. And so President Obama, why should you be any different? I’m here to tell you to look in the eye of Grandma Ada Benally and to the eye of Grandma Betty Jones, and you tell them that you’re doing this in their best interest. You’re not. You’re limiting access and you’re lying to them.
So today I want to thank everyone for being here, stewards of San Juan County and the Jones family, the Morris family and San Juan County residents, the State of Utah, the governor, lieutenant governor, commissioners and Utah delegation, state and congressional level, titleholders, I want to let you know that at a personal level it’s disheartening, it makes you want to cry. It hurts. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, it has split families as I said. It has split San Juan County members. So this national monument, all it’s going to represent is a division. It’s not going to be a one mind, one voice, one heart movement. So today I’m going to tell you in this press conference, ‘no national monument.’ Thank you.”
Who attend the rally:
- Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes
- Utah State Representative Mike Noel
- Senator Mike Lee
- U.S. Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch
- Governor Gary Herbert
- San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams
- Congressman Rob Bishop
- Congressman Chris Stewart
- Congresswoman Mia Love
- Congressman Jason Chaffetz
- Utah State Senator David Hinkins
- San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman
- Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney
- Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
- Lt. Governor Spencer Cox
- San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally
View more photos here.