Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council issues letter to White House over objection to reduce size of national monuments
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, we are writing to voice our objection to your decision of Monday, Tsiothórhra/December 4, 2017 to drastically reduce the size of the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in the State of Utah. These are two national monuments designated as federally protected areas given their religious and cultural significance for Native American tribes and their members.The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is a federally recognized tribal government located in our traditional territory of Akwesasne in Northern New York State. We take pride on being a good partner with our local, state, and federal leadership to promote the well-being of our communities and to advance our collective legislative goals. As a result, we understand the significance of protecting areas whose importance we hold in common and how it can help us all achieve the goals of our peoples.
On Ohiarihkó:wa/July 10, 2017; the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe submitted a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke strongly urging that in its agency review of National Monument designations established since 1996 that all federally protected lands of significance to Native American Tribes be maintained. As the federal trustee, we are therefore disappointed, but not surprised; that your decision does not support efforts to protect America’s vast natural resources and promote the economic, social, and cultural well-being of federally recognized Native American tribes.
As the President of our Nation; your decision to re-designate two million acres, which represents the single largest removal of federally protected lands in U.S. history, demonstrates an apparent lack of understanding for the connection that National Monument designations play in preserving Native American history and maintaining cultural and religious practices that have survived centuries of contact and federal assimilation policies. The removal of these protections greatly threatens our traditions, ceremonies, subsistence practices and rights, and, more importantly, the contributions that Native American Tribes have made to enhance this country’s history.
We strongly suggest that you reflect upon the impact that your decision will have on your administration’s commitment to fostering the well-being of Native American tribes and their members. Moreover, we strenuously request that you maintain all National Monument designations established since 1996 that bares any religious and cultural significance for Native American Tribes.
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council