High Country News has an awesome essay by Jim Stiles, a Utah resident of 40 years, about the complexity of Bears Ears. He makes some great points about the dangers to Bears Ears that I’ve talked about with friends, but not personally heard the media discuss.
Does the formation of a monument financially make sense?
Do the Native Americans actually get a say in what is going on, or were they just used for the debate?
Were there real, pressing, development threats from the oil industry?
Don’t get me wrong, the monument is a great thing. But could there have been other ways to go about it? Was there, as Stiles points out, some alarmism on the part of the environmentalists going on? Stiles says:
Had I not lived here all these decades but simply viewed the recent debate over the Bears Ears from afar, I’d probably be an enthusiastic supporter of its recent designation as a national monument. But I’ve been involved in these kinds of issues for decades, and the preservation of the Bears Ears is far more complicated than the monument’s architects will admit. I think there is a better way to protect the Bears Ears than its new monument designation, and a more honest way to still empower the Native Americans who deserve an integral role in protecting this landscape’s future.
I found this a well written, interesting essay that kept a friendly tone. Remember, these debates are complex things that can take years of in-depth study to really understand. All most of us get are a few media sound bites and some ill-conscieved memes on Facebook.
Check it out, and lets keep learning together.