Climbers and Tribes over Bears Ears

May 23, 2016

EcoFlight provided overflights out of Moab, UT as a platform for Native American tribes and the climbing community to come together and talk about the Bears Ears National Monument proposal.

Native American leaders have invited themselves to the table to gather input on public lands management in San Juan County, southeast Utah. Sacred places and important biological areas were identified by Native American elders, spiritual leaders, hunters, gatherers and conservation scientists to form the boundaries of a 1.9 million-acre proposal in 2010, now called the Bears Ears for the geologic formation bearing the same name: a pair of buttes in the Manti-Sal National Forest. Led by the Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo and Ute Indian Tribes and supported by 25 tribes across the Southwest, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is asking the president to protect the area through a national monument designation. 

Members of the Coalition hold the Bears Ears' immediate landscape, as well as the lands fanning out from its twin plateaus, as traditional sacred lands. This land is a place where tribal traditional leaders and medicine people go to conduct ceremonies, collect herbs for medicinal purposes, and practice healing rituals stemming from time immemorial, as demonstrated through tribal creation stories.

The area is also important to the climbing community because of the popular climbing area known as Indian Creek. The climbing community values and respects the cultural history of the area, and is excited about protecting this area for posterity.