Forgery? Fights? Looting? What Will Happen to Bears Ears?

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Prehistoric Granary overlooks Cedar Mesa. Photographer: Josh Ewing
Prehistoric Granary overlooks Cedar Mesa. Photographer: Josh Ewing

Friends of Cedar Mesa seek support from archaeologists for the Bears Ears National Monument!

Friends of Cedar Mesa seek to gather signatures from 1000 archaeologists to protect this endangered archaeological region. They are now nearly there, but still need more support, from archaeologist like you! Not an archaeologist?, you can lend your voice in support here: http://www.bearsearscoalition.org/action/

This effort has receive much attention recently with political conflict between The President and Congress as to the designation, as well as ongoing looting and vandalism in the area. In thee most recent article from the Washington Post entitled “A major Native American site is being looted. Will Obama risk armed confrontation to save it?”

In the case of Bears Ears, there is no question that the area is imperiled by the kind of looting and pillaging that first inspired the Antiquities Act, as well as more modern threats, such as ATVs and motorbikes tearing through the desert terrain.

There have been six confirmed looting incidents in the past six months, and at least two dozen over the past five years. In one, a vandal used a rock saw to remove a petroglyph; in one this year someone dug up a pristine ceremonial chamber, or kiva, that had never been professionally excavated. Although the BLM has allocated $400,000 over two years to stabilize 10 archeological sites and trained about 20 people to serve as volunteer “site stewards,” it employs just two law enforcement officers to patrol 1.8 million acres.

Without help from Washington, preservationists worry that the looting and destruction will continue.

From the Guardian investigating miss-information campaigns trying to split this overwhelmingly supported proposal  “Forged letters mislead Utah residents about Native American land proposal”

The proposed Bears Ears national monument, named for the Bears Ears Buttes in south-eastern Utah, would cover up to 1.9m acres of land that is culturally significant to Native American tribes. The land is considered sacred to tribe members, and it contains more than 100,000 archaeological sites and structures.

Supporters of the monument say the fake documents are an attempt to misinform Native Americans and undermine efforts to safeguard the land….

Gavin Noyes, executive director of the Utah Diné Bikéyah, called the proposal “historic”. He said he’s not aware of another time when Native American tribes have come together for such a petition.

“This is the first time that’s happened,” he said. “And it’s also probably the first time that this broad of a coalition of tribes has come together and united around a big issue such as this one. We’ve not seen that before.”

Noyes added that he worried many tribal members might be influenced by the false documents. He said he wanted to assure them that the national monument would not limit their use of the land. He said they would still be able to collect medicinal herbs, collect wood for ceremonial uses, hunt and visit sacred places.

Furthermore, Noyes said creating the monument would protect and preserve the land, which he said was threatened by rampant looting. He noted that grave sites were being dug up and the artifacts taken from them sold for pennies on the black market.

In the Salt Lake Tribune “Editorial: Lies only make a stronger case for Bears Ears Monument” A good overview of recent news coverage going back over that last can be read from Newser “A Battle Over 1.9M Acres: Inside the Fight for Bears Ears. 5 tribes want to see the land made a national monument”

The archaeological community has urged the preservation of the Cedar Mesa/Bears Ears region for at least 113 years, dating back to a report in 1903 by T. Mitchel Prudden. Thanks to the leadership of Native American Tribes, 2016 is finally the year to protect this internationally significant cultural landscape.

If you’re a professional or avocational archaeologist, please add your voice to the chorus calling for permanent designation of a place that should have been protected more than 100 years ago!

http://www.friendsofcedarmesa.org/archaeologist-petition-for-bears-ears/

If you are not an archaeologist you still can add your voice in support here: Add your voice in support of saving Bears Ears by signing the petition now!

The Intertribal Coalition states, ” Yet looting, grave robbing, ignorant visitation, oil drilling, mining, and irresponsible motorized use threaten to erase American history and damage a truly remarkable cultural landscape forever. The Bear’s Ears Coalition is seeking permanent protection as a National Monument for a landscape that should have been protected 100 years ago.

http://www.bearsearscoalition.org/action/

The Bears Ears Buttes framed with summer wild flowers. Photographer: Tim Peterson
The Bears Ears Buttes framed with summer wild flowers. Photographer: Tim Peterson

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