Trump shrinks national monument sacred to local tribe, opening it up to mining

Native Americans have vowed to launch a lawsuit 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 27 October 2017 20:59 BST
Campaigners say the proposals are a sell-out to special interests
Campaigners say the proposals are a sell-out to special interests (Getty)

Donald Trump has said he will shrink the size of two national monuments in Utah - opening up more land to drilling and mining companies but overriding the concerns of Native Americans.

The two Utah sites, Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument were among several US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended reducing in order to make way for more industrial activity on the land they occupy.

Senator Orrin Hatch said he had been informed of the news by the President.

“I was incredibly grateful the President called this morning to let us know that he is approving Secretary Zinke’s recommendation on Bears Ears," Mr Hatch said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

His spokesman, Matt Whitlock, told the news agency Mr Trump told Mr Hatch he was approving shrinking the two monuments “for you, Orrin”.

Ron Reagan: Trump is a "deeply damaged human being"

Mr Trump met with Mr Zinke in the Oval Office on Friday. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked whether Mr Zinke briefed Mr Trump on his Bears Ears recommendation during their meeting, said she did not want to get ahead of the president’s announcement.

“I can tell you he Trump will be going to Utah in the first part of early December,” she said.

The move has already been condemned by local Native Americans who say the land is sacred. They have threatened a law suit.

The Navajo Nation’s top lawyer said last month the tribe would sue the Trump administration for violating the Antiquities Act, a century-old law that protects sacred sites, cultural artifacts and other historical objects, if it tried to reduce the size of the Bears Ears.

The lawyer, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch, said: “The Navajo Nation stands ready to defend the Bears Ears National Monument. We have a complaint ready to file upon official action by the President.”

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