This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
No, Sen. Hatch, we won't just take your word for it.
Utah's senior senator put his foot very firmly into his mouth Monday by attacking the intelligence and the integrity of the five Native American nations whose elected leaders joined together to work for and, in the final days of the Obama administration, win national monument status for 1.35 million acres in southeast Utah known as Bears Ears.
This patronizing, condescending if not downright racist theme has been a constant throughout the debate over the monument plan. The five nations, and their supporters from many other tribes, are cruelly dismissed as dupes, pawns, unwitting tools of far-away radical environmentalists who must be fooling the tribes, paying them off, or both.
"The Indians, they don't fully understand that a lot of the things that they currently take for granted on those lands, they won't be able to do if it's made clearly into a monument or a wilderness," Hatch said.
It's already a monument. Nobody is proposing that the land receive the much more restrictive designation of "wilderness" something that only Congress can do.
And, when pressed, Hatch couldn't name anything that the Indians can do now, or could do last year, that they won't be able to do under monument management. Management that, as specifically laid out in President Obama's proclamation, will include a formal voice for the affected nations.
"Just take my word for it," Hatch said.
The tribes know better than to do that. They know exactly what they are doing, what they wanted, what they got and how to make the most of it going forward.
Leaders of Utah Dine Bikeyah called Hatch out for his patronizing words and demanded an apology.
Well. The Hollywood stereotype of the Native American includes a large dose of studied stoicism. Which is likely what they will need if they wait for Hatch to recant.
All this was part of a tour in which Hatch and other anti-monument Utah Republicans ushered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke around the area as part of Zinke's mission to reassess national monuments in Utah and elsewhere.
Zinke made some hopeful noises about meeting with people on both sides of the issue, including the tribes whose leaders sought the designation. But the focus of his attention has been on the anti-monument side, state and local officials who drone on about federal overreach while disrespecting the Indians and clinging to pie-in-the-sky dreams about some fossil fuel or mining bonanza that will fall from the skies if the monument goes away.
So would it be condescending to say that it's Hatch who don't fully understand? Because he clearly doesn't.