Navajo Nation Sues Trump Over Monument

Navajo Nation Sues Trump Over Monument Promo Image

The Navajo Nation has announced it will sue President Donald Trump over his Dec. 4 decision to shrink the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

Trump declared that Bears Ears will be cut by 1.1 million acres, while the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument will be reduced by 800,000 acres, The Washington Post reported.

The lawsuit was revealed by Navajo President Russell Begaye.

"The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue," Begaye said, according to The Hill. "The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region."

Bears Ears was established by former President Barack Obama in 2016. Trump's decision amounted to the largest reduction in public lands protection in U.S. history.

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The Ute, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni Pueblo tribes confirmed they would join the Navajo in the lawsuit. Other groups are expected to sue over the Staircase-Escalante monument.

"The decision to reduce the size of the monument is being made with no tribal consultation," added Begaye. "The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction of the size of the monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision."

No president has tried to modify monuments established under the 1906 Antiquities Act in more than half a century. Because of this, it is unclear how the courts will respond to the litigation.

Trump defended his decision at a rally in Salt Lake City, saying he was seeking to "reverse federal overreach." He added that it was necessary to intervene "because some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They're wrong," according to The Post.

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When the president arrived, he was greeted by several hundred protesters, who chanted, "Lock him up!"

But not everyone in the Navajo Nation is opposed to Trump's move.

"When Bears Ears was designated, it was disheartening for my community," said Rebecca Benally, referring to Obama's creation of the monument, The Hill reported.

"It was insulting that bureaucrats thousands of miles away didn't think we were capable of protecting our land," she added.

Conservative political activists also welcomed Trump's move. The Pacific Legal Foundation has stated that Trump has the authority to reverse a previous president's designation of a national monument.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due to present a report Dec. 5 on a number of monuments that the Trump administration intends to downsize or change the way they are managed.

Sources: The Hill, The Washington Post / / Featured Image: J Brew/Flickr / Embedded Images: US Bureau of Land Management via Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Department of the Interior/Flickr

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