Gov. Spencer Cox recently raised a concern about President Joe Biden abusing his authority by using the Antiquities Act, a law that gives the president authority to protect cultural and natural resources of historic or scientific interest on federal lands.
Since its inception, the 1906 Antiquities Act has been used over 150 times and has drawn criticism from individuals who want to use public lands for development rather than preservation.
Cox’s evaluation of the Biden administration’s use of the Antiquities Act is inaccurate. This use of the act is preserving the land. The reinstatement of the Bears Ears National Monument borders is beneficial to both the Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous locals. Bears Ears deserves protection for its significance to the social, cultural and spiritual well-being of the local tribes.
Contrary to inaccurate statements made by some officials in the media that seek to minimize the widespread support for a Bears Ears National Monument, there is not as much disagreement as one might believe. Support for the monument is expressed by a number of groups, but from watching the news, one would mistakenly believe that it is divided.
What can we do to address this? Educating the public is the first step. The next and most crucial step is to respect the Bears Ears National Monument so that it can continue to be public land. Originally, these lands belonged to Indigenous peoples who have been here since the beginning. The ideal moment to right past wrongs that Indigenous people have experienced is right now.
I encourage any new or old visitors to this monument to ask these questions before entering: How can I establish a genuine connection with the land and the Indigenous people it belongs to? How can we ensure that these communities receive the support they deserve?
Salt Lake City