Banana bread, hot coffee, and later on mutton stew with frybread for all, that bone chilly Saturday. And a heart felt praise to President Barack Obama. It was about the first time in American history first nations were acknowledged, ratified, and officially included in the management of federal lands. And it was the beginning of a ceremony of healing long overdue.
It barely made the news.
On Saturday 7, 2017 people celebrated the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument, at the Navajo Nation Monument Valley Welcome Center at the Arizona-Utah borders. About 400 people gathered, embraced the news, cheered, and reflected upon what it took to bring that victory, what it means, and what is yet to come.
Navajo Nation President, Mr. Russell Begaye, was there, along with Vice President Jonathan Nez, Alfred Lomaquahu, Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, former Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk (the first person contacted by the White House to nreak the news about the designation back in December), Shaun Chapoose, Chairman of the Ute Tribe of Uinta Ouray Reservation, Eric Descheenie, Representative-elect for the Arizona House of Representatives and former Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents five Utah Navajo districts.
“Bears Ears is our place of healing,” observed Eric Descheenie.“The opposition cannot compromise our ability to heal. It is absolutely critical that we develop a space for high-level intellectual conversation where we can talk about who we are and what it means to be human. Bears Ears Commission has created such a space.
The narrative has to shift. Please recognize that indigenous people carry a different body of knowledge. Let’s embrace that difference, support one another, and champion the new narrative.”