WMF Statement on Restoring the Boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument
World Monuments Fund (WMF) applauds the Biden administration for restoring the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. We stand with all those whose relentless advocacy led to this act of spatial and social justice. The announcement reverses a decision made by President Trump in 2017 to dramatically reduce the protected area—from 1.35 million to just over 200,000 acres—exposing large swaths of ancestral territory to drilling and mining and without resources to help protect from environmental degradation, vandalism, and looting. The designation and subsequent 85% reduction also prompted a large influx of visitors that have exposed fragile ancestral sites to further damage.
Since including Bears Ears on the 2020 World Monuments Watch, WMF has partnered with Friends of Cedar Mesa to protect the most at-risk sites that are of immense significance to the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian Tribe, and other modern Indigenous peoples. Established via a unique collaboration between the federal government and an inter-tribal coalition, Bears Ears sets an important precedent that must be built upon now and in the future. We encourage further efforts by the U.S. government to meaningfully engage Indigenous communities as decision makers, ensuring that their cultural ties to the land are honored and ancient structures are protected for future generations.