|Bears Ears National Monument, Utah. (Photo: Tim Peterson)|
The Bears Ears region of southeast Utah is a singularly remarkable landscape, with a record of human inhabitation that stretches back some 12,000 years.
But barely two months after being declared a national monument, this rugged high-desert landscape and its more than 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites are under attack from political forces that seek to shrink its borders—if not eliminate it completely.
And we need your help to save it.
Last year, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center joined with a broad coalition of American Indian tribes, archaeological and historical preservation organizations, conservation groups, business and civic groups, and others to push then President Barack Obama to create Bears Ears National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. It was the culmination of more than a century of hard work from archaeologists, tribal leaders, and others to protect the 1.35 million-acre area from artifact looting, unchecked energy development, and inappropriate recreational use.
"It’s time to recognize the Bears Ears area for the national treasure that it is," said Crow Canyon Archaeological Center trustee Bill Lipe, Ph.D., following the creation of the national monument last December. Lipe has been doing archaeological research in the Bears Ears region for nearly 50 years.
"Because of the abundance and good preservation of many of the sites, the Bears Ears area has great potential for future archaeological research, as well as for productive collaborations between scientific researchers and Native American groups," said Lipe.
But despite its importance to researchers and deep cultural significance to the American Indian tribes in the area—as well as its general support among many residents both in Utah and the region as a whole—elected officials in Utah have vowed to strip the Bears Ears of its national monument status, and open it up to energy, mineral, ranching, and recreational development. And with a new administration in the White House, these threats are now much closer to becoming a reality.
One of the missions of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is to advocate for the protection and preservation of archaeological and cultural sites through partnerships with American Indian tribes and other stakeholders. But there are ways you can get involved in the effort as well—the most important being to contact your U.S. Congressional delegation and tell them that you support the Bears Ears, and that they should do the same. Crow Canyon also frequently posts important updates and information about the effort to protect Bears Ears on our Facebook page (@crowcanyonarchaeologicalcenter), and more information can be found on Facebook under the hashtag #StandWithBearsEars.
“It may have taken more than 100 years to create Bears Ears National Monument, but without hard work and constant vigilance it could all disappear in an instant,” said Crow Canyon President and CEO Deborah Gangloff, Ph.D. “We thank you for standing with us as we help fight to save the Bears Ears.”