This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In a Dec. 31 article "Tribes cut off talks with Utah delegation over public lands bill," Rep. Rob Bishop declares that the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is a "self-appointed coalition [that] has an agenda that we need to reconcile with the wishes of those who actually call Utah home."

First, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is not "self-appointed." The Bears Ears Coalition is comprised of five sovereign nations that each appointed one official representative to engage in negotiations with Bishop's office. The appointment of each person was done officially under the full authority of each tribal government. Our authority to exist as governments comes through treaties signed between our ancestors and Bishop's predecessors in the U.S. Congress.

Second, we have called Bears Ears home since time immemorial, since before Utah was a state. My tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute, has lands within the proposal. We still live here in Utah, and the Ute and Navajo community members who make up the majority of San Juan County citizenry have spoken and have been ignored by Utah officials.

This is why as sovereign nations we are asking the president to act multi-laterally (not unilaterally) on our behalf.

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk

Ute Mountain Ute tribal representative on the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

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