This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah Republicans work overtime to paint the image of a dictatorial President Obama making Bears Ears National Monument on a whim. This federal bogeyman scare tactic is getting as old and weak as the ruins so many desperately want to protect. They want to beat the anti-government drums so they can further entrench this poorly-informed mentality that gives them great political success in rural areas.
In reality, this effort came from Native Americans who believe this land should be protected now and not in the year 2050 after fracking and strip mining have taken their toll. State officials had a chance to work with Natives in establishing protections, but they burned that bridge over years of missing deadlines, ignoring communications, and even breaking the law by driving ATVs through lands closed for the protection of artifacts.
They need to stop the disrespect and crying foul when they don't get their way. Implying Natives are influenced by "outside," "greedy" environmental groups, as if they couldn't think of this on their own, is paternalistic and borders on racist.
Natives are not the white man's burden. Natives have a voice, and to the Republicans' dismay, they're using it.
Garon Coriz, M.D.
Salt Lake City