Yet More Tribal Land Under Threat

The battle lines for the next fight to protect sacred tribal lands are being drawn in Bears Ears in Southeastern Utah.

The fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is still not getting as much attention from the mainstream media as it deserves - and it's not the only place in America where the rights of Native Americans are being threatened for the sake of fossil fuel developments.

Republican U.S. congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz - both from Utah -have introduced a bill called the Public Land Initiative that would take 100,000 acres of Ute tribal lands away from the tribe and hand them over to oil and mining companies.

It's a bill that threatens Native American tribal lands that are rich with history, religion and culture- and where neighboring tribes hunt game and forage for food and medicine.

Many tribes, including the Navajo, Ute and Paiute peoples, have longstanding connections to the land - because Bears Ears has been inhabited for at least 11,000 years and is home to more than 100,000 Native American archeological sites - including holy sites, rock paintings and petroglyphs.

The Public Land Initiative would take 26% of Ute reservation lands and open them up to mining interests and oil rigs at the expense of land conservation efforts.

The Initiative also appeals directly to anti-American government conservative icon Cliven Bundy - because it would allow ranchers like Bundy to desecrate sacred lands with motor vehicles that are currently prohibited.

Even though Chaffetz and Bishop have introduced this as Utah's representatives - it's an incredibly unpopular bill in Utah: a poll from May showed that 71% of Utah voters want to protect Bears Ears as a national monument - and support for it was widespread across regions, age, gender, and political party affiliation.

The call to protect Bears Ears has also been repeated by two of Utah's biggest newspapers: the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

But it's hardly a surprise that Republican congressman Chaffetz and Bishop seem more concerned with appealing to mining and oil lobbyists than they are with honestly representing the people who voted to send them to Washington DC.

Help stop this bill and protect Bears Ears - call your Congressman and tell them to reject the fossil fuel friendly Public Land Initiative - and go to to learn more about this issue.


Uncle Draggi's picture
Uncle Draggi 6 years 25 weeks ago

This may sound 'strange', but please think about it for a second.

These two congressmen -obviously- don't give a rip about the people in their communities/district. They have made it quite obvious they care more about the money they're being paid (yes, a 'bribe' no matter how you try to spin it) by the lobbyists. However, they and/or their families -live- in their communities, and there is no way they -can- =not= know what their 'friends & neighbors' think about what these guys are doing. My 'question', therefore, is very simple: do these guys plan to take the money and run like cockroaches as fast and soon as they can?? Presuming they care, how are they going to face their wives and children?? Presuming also that they're Mormon (it -is- Utah), how are they going to face their Elders?? No matter what, "spin" can only take you so far, before the 'whiplash' takes your head right off your shoulders!!

Comments, thoughts???

Edward J. Dodson's picture
Edward J. Dodson 6 years 25 weeks ago

History is filled with warfare over the conquest of territory. The winners get to control whatever natural resources exist. The losers are enslaved, annihilated, driven off or made to pay tribute until they rise up against the conquering masters. So, it seems fair that the peoples who have been driven off or forced onto reservations of marginal land be protected now that we are more "enlightened" in our thinking toward earlier conquered peoples. There is a problem with the whole picture. The earth is and justice requires the planet be treated as the equal birthright of all. The planet is our commons from which all that supports life must come. No individual or group of people has any greater claim over any portion of the planet than any other. Centuries of continued or previous occupancy does not override this fundamental human right. Our claims of sovereign control over this or that region of the planet are false claims. The very concept of the nation-state is a violation of human rights. But, how to guarantee to each person our equal birthright to the planet? There is only one means of doing so. Control over any parcel or tract of land must be allocated by a process of competitive bidding, As Thomas Paine wrote in his remarkable essay, "Agrarian Justice," every person who controls any land owes to society the payment of an annual ground rent for this privilege. Later in the 19th century the American writer Henry George expanded this analysis to provide the mechanism for determining what the full annual ground rent is on a regular basis.

c-gull's picture
c-gull 6 years 25 weeks ago

Oil and gas interests have long implied that oil product transfer by pipeline is safe. I invite the readers here to visit pipeline leaks. There are literally hundreds of pipeline leaks recorded there for the last 90 years. Not just a few of these leaks caused fire/explosions and killed people.

EG: The basement of the New London school in Texas filled with natural gas via a pipeline leak and exploded killing over 300 children. And yeah, Native Americans are not fond of oil/gas pipelines-the Yellowstone pipeline which crossed Flathead tribal lands in Montana leaked 78 times in about a 40 year period. In January of 2000 Koch Industries was fined 35 million dollars for pipeline leaks in 6 different states. In August of 2000 the ElPaso pipeline exploded at a river crossing near Carlsbad New Mexico killing 12 people camped almost 200 yards away and left a huge crater. To top it off the new Keystone XL pipeline has already leaked out 1,700 gallons of the thick Canadian crude new Freeman South Dakota.

The oil companies do not inform the public of the real risks. Some of these pipelines, especially the ones carrying heavy crude, operate at very high pressures (1200-1400 psi). Emergency shut off valves can be 30 miles apart so that a large line if ruptured will discharge thousands of barrels of oil even if the valves close in a timely manner.

Chris Hedges talked about sacrifice zones in th U.S. This is another example of the rich hierarchy standing on the necks of the "lowerarchy" to maintain profit and power while destroying the planet and another piece of humanity at the same time.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 6 years 25 weeks ago

And now the money raking republicans want to start a war with the "Indians"; well, there are more of them now then there was a hundred years ago, and they're better educated, more informed, and better organized then they ever were. Should be an interesting war.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 25 weeks ago

The eleven most terrifying words in the English language are.......I'm a REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN and I'm here to steal your land!

Yet still many can't tell the difference between the Democratic and the Teapublic party ???? ...Because the Fascists told you there is no difference....keep em confused and they'll screw voting. The youngsters don't trust Hillary....but not the ones I know!!!!...and they know way more than they're legally supposed to.

Trump will be convicted of a felony after the election...Pence will become president....that is, if the swing states succeed in digital election fraud. Trump will not be able to evade conviction the way Rick Scott did! It's over for him man.

Maybe Trump should start getting paranoid about Pence and his back room fascist benefactors plotting this most certain conviction...LMAO ...oh how truth hurts. They all know Trump is nuts!...but currently value him as a vehicle to a Pence Teabag presidency....the only way this is possible.

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 6 years 25 weeks ago

Haven't we already disrespected Trubal Lands of the Native Americans far more than anyone with a conscience can bear? We've been doing this for so many years, I guess Republicans think, "Why stop now?" The last vestiges of their ancestors across this entire nation, are being reclaimed at an alarming rate. Are we deliberately attempting to remove all the remaining hunting and burial grounds, petroglyphs, and other sacred sites to destroy whatever these proud peoples have been able to retain of their culture and their heritage? Mineral mining will poison the land more than we already have in other sections. Do we want to kill them off, too? We never seem to get around to cleaning up the messes we make, the waters we contaminate, the the ground they use to grow some of their own crops. We, put simply, have to stop this desecration of the lands and the animals that are supposed to be those of Native Americans. We took so much from them... is there enough support for them to this time stop this terrible trend before it's too late? I certainly hope so.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 25 weeks ago

Repugs need to Google this - "What does it mean that ‘to whom much is given, much will be required’ (Luke 12:48)?"

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