The sacred sites of Utah’s Bear Ears will once again be protected

Grosvenor Arch at Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah
Grosvenor Arch at Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

Restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah represents a victory for local Indigenous tribes ©Getty Images Local Indigenous groups have praised US President Joe Biden’s “positive step” in reinstating protections to two key national monuments in Utah , after they were drastically downsized under the Trump administration.

Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears were established as protected lands by presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in 1996 and 2016, respectively, but were downsized by more than two-thirds under Donald Trump’s administration in 2017—in what experts claim was the largest ever reduction of federally protected lands in the US. Biden’s move to restore protections will grant more than three million acres to the land in southern Utah and will slightly expand Bears Ears from its original designation, the New York Times reports .

The regions are popular with hikers, climber and stargazers and have been home to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. The Bears Ears region alone is home to more than 100,000 sacred sites and is regarded as a culturally and spiritually significant site for many Indigenous communities today. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (BEITT), a collective of local nations who have been advocating for meaningful protections for the landscape, welcomed Biden’s decision on Friday, saying they see it as a “positive step towards uplifting Indigenous perspectives and respecting the inherent right of Tribes to manage ancestral homelands.” The protections recognize the deep and enduring ancestral and cultural connections that local tribes have to the landscape ©Getty Images/Aurora […]

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