The Navajo Nation will sue the Trump administration in order to protect the national monument status of the Bear Ears region in Utah.
Earlier on Monday, President Trump announced plans to reduce the Bear Ears National Monument to 15% of its current size, potentially opening the remaining 85% to exploitation, such as fossil fuel extraction.
“The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”
Bears Ears earned national monument status in December 2016 after a coalition of five Indian Nations pressured the Obama administration to grant designation to the 1.4 million acres of territory.
“Bears Ears has protected Navajo people in the past, and now we must protect it,” said Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents several Navajo communities in Utah. “This decision disrespects Native Americans across the country by acting against the Antiquities Act, which has been used countless times since 1906 to protect Native American heritage. Navajo Nation will be filing a legal challenge to President Trump’s decision and we will not back down.”