Dear Secretaries Zinke and Ross:
We oppose review of national monuments pursuant to Executive Order 13792 and related actions. The U.S. Department of the Interior has identified 27 monuments that could be scaled back or even eliminated. Secretary Zinke issued an interim report recommending that Bears Ears monument in Utah be reduced. The Department of Commerce is reviewing marine monuments.
We submit the attached public comments on behalf of Next 100 Coalition, a group of over 50 organizations committed to a just and inclusive system of our nation’s parks and public lands and waters; GreenLatinos, an international network of conservation, environmental justice, and health equity allies; The City Project, a civil rights and environmental justice non-profit team; International Mayan League, a Maya organization that acts against threats and violations affecting our peoples, the earth, and humanity; and Robert Bracamontes, Bob Black Crow, Yu-va’-tal ‘A’lla-mal (Black Crow), Acjachemen Nation, Juaneno Tribe.
Now is the time to defend our national heritage. The review targets and threatens monuments that focus on the history and culture of diverse communities. An attack on one monument is an attack on all monuments. The order is an attack on the Antiquities Act, on the rule of law, and on democratic governance. We the people are the ultimate check on government.
This review denigrates the work that brought diverse communities together, from those in urban neighborhoods fighting for equal access to nature and recreation, to others protecting cultural identity. Monuments and the great outdoors have the power to improve mental and physical health, enhance learning, and transform lives. Review puts the money interest of oil drilling and mining companies, big business and developers ahead of the needs of the people. President Barack Obama listened to the community in designating monuments. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has vowed to protect monuments in the state.
We stand with our Native American and indigenous sisters and brothers to defend their rights, these monuments, the earth, and her people.
A significant number of these monuments paint a more diverse, inclusive picture of our nation. A 2016 New America poll found that 93 percent of voters of color said it is important to protect public lands and the diverse histories, cultures, and experiences they represent.
Since 1906, 16 presidents, Republican and Democrat, have used the Antiquities Act to preserve 152 national monuments. It is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful laws to conserve our environment and cultural heritage and should be preserved. No president has ever before sought to reduce or eliminate a national monument designated by a prior president. Congress delegated to the president the authority to create national monuments. There is no doubt that the monuments under review were lawfully designated. Only Congress can change those designations, according to public comments submitted by 121 law professors.
We stand in solidarity and resistance with the people to support national monuments and the Antiquities Act.
Robert García, The City Project
Kevin Bryan, Next 100 Coalition
Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos
Juanita Cabrera Lopez, International Mayan League
Robert Bracamontes, Bob Black Crow, Yu-va’-tal ‘A’lla-mal, Acjachemen Nation, Juaneno Tribe
* Robert Bracamontes and The City Project submitted separate comments to support national monuments with distinct historic and cultural value to Native Americans. Any attempt to take tribal, federal, state, and county lands and waters and sacred landscapes reflects the legacy and pattern of discrimination against Native Americans from the time of contact. Recent academic studies document this history and pattern of discrimination. See, for example, Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873 (2016); David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I. (2016); Peter Cozzens, The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (2016). See generally N. Bruce Duthu, American Indians and the Law (2008). This administration must protect against all forms of discrimination against Native Americans under equal justice, environmental justice, and Native American laws and principles.