Thank you, Secretary Jewell for your speech on April 19th, laying out a vision for our public lands, a vision for lands where as you said, we “heal and reconnect” and find our “identity.” It has been said that our National Parks are “America’s” best idea. And Wallace Stegner, in his famous Wilderness Letter, wrote that wild landscapes “helped form our character” and “shaped our history.” Unfortunately the “America” and the “our” have been unjustly and narrowly construed, ignoring the character and history of Native Americans that predate “our American history” by centuries. Now, as your speech suggested, it’s time to repair those relationships with the land and its history, to “make a major course correction.” We welcome your visit to Utah, a place where a well-developed proposal for healing has taken shape in the form of a call for the protection of Bears Ears as a national monument. As you pointed out, the use of the Antiquities Act over more than 100 years, has preserved incomparable landscapes that might have been lost. In the Bears Ears, looting, grave robbing, and resource extraction threaten a sacred spiritual landscape where more than 100,000 cultural and archeological sites tell a history of peoples who are still there on the land, there with their ancestors. Please listen to these people on your travels. Hear their pleas for healing, for cooperation, for a center where traditional knowledge will add to western science creating “indigenuity” for the preservation of our climate-change-threatened natural world and our spirits.
Open Letter to Secretary Sally Jewell