By IRENE NORTH
GERING, Neb. (AP) _ Ledger books were most commonly used to keep track of accounting, but they also had another purpose. Many American Indians drew pictures and scenes from life inside their pages, creating a unique account of history. Some of that work can be seen in a temporary exhibit at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.
One such ledger drawn by Lakota Sioux Red Hawk contains colorful drawings of life as a Sioux. Many of the drawings are of himself.
``I think it's great he drew himself and not just once. He did it several times,'' Amanda Gibbs, director of the Legacy of the Plains Museum, told the Star-Herald reported. ``It's nice that it's not just drawings of his buddies.''
On loan from the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, ``The Miller Collection of Sioux Indian Ledger Art,'' the drawings on display are actual-sized replica copies from a leather bound ledger book purchased by the Milwaukee Public Museum. The leather-bound ledger was purchased in 1900 by the Milwaukee museum.
According to the inscription inside the book, it was, ``captured from the Sioux Indians by Capt. R. Miller on Wounded Creek, South Dakota Jan. 8th, 1891, and is a history of the Ghost Dance and the shirts worn by the Indians in the Ghost Dance. Was painted by a Sioux warrior whose name was Red Hawk and is a correct History of the Book.''
Art found in these leather books was typically done in inks and crayons creating brighter and more varied coloring than the earth colors typically used in traditional leather paintings. As such the scenes are colorful, sometimes graphic, depictions of war, creating a warrior image of the Sioux fighting in battle. There are a few drawings, such as an ``Indian Riding a Horse with an Umbrella,'' which depicts a more quiet life rather than war.
The exhibit has 36 scenes of a total of 116, drawn by the Red Hawk. In addition to warfare, the scenes also show horse stealing, peace councils, the use of Ghost Dance shirts and warriors returning to their wives. In many scenes, the warriors names are written above their heads.
While depictions of war make up 58 percent of the collection, horse stealing, which would command respect if successful, make up an additional 31 percent.
Native American art in ledger books can be found in several collections around the country. Many were recovered from battlefields.
Gibbs said it was believed that if you took the ledger book with you, it would be good luck. American Indians were often given such ledgers to draw in after being imprisoned for participating in activities such as the Ghost Dance.
``Red Hawk likely had it when he probably died,'' she said. ``Days later, as the cavalry was cleaning up after a battle, it was picked up.''
The Sioux Ledger artwork will be on display in the Community Room at the Legacy of the Plains Museum until Dec. 18.
Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com
Wisconsin Gets $11M in Federal Funds for Bus Improvements
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Wisconsin is getting $11.3 million in federal funding to improve public transportation.
The funds will go toward four projects intended to replace old buses and improve service for riders throughout the state, especially in rural areas, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .
Janesville will receive $2 million, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin will receive $180,000 and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will receive just over $5 million. Appleton will also receive funds.
The money is part of a more than $366 million grant package the Federal Transit Association recently awarded to more than 100 projects in the U.S. to improve the safety and reliability of bus systems.
Janesville will purchase five new buses, said Rebecca Smith, Janesville's transit director. It may take the city between 18 to 24 months to acquire the vehicles, which will use clean diesel and be fully ADA-accessible, she said.
``We want to keep our fleet moving forward,'' she said. ``So we can have better fuel efficiency, lower emissions, less replacement costs and higher reliability.''
The Menominee Department of Transit Services will purchase three new buses with the funds, which will likely be operational sometime next year, said Timothy Reed, the department's director. It will help the department modernize the service that sees 200,000 riders annually, he said.
``We do have low-income, elderly and handicapped individuals, and providing the public transportation that the (Menominee transit) department provides is essential so they can access recreational opportunities, doctors appointments and just getting to work.'' Reed said.
The state Transportation Department will use its funds to purchase buses for rural transit providers. The department is accepting applications until Dec. 13. Recipients will be notified early next year.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
Red Cliff to Build Cell Tower in Aftermath of Drownings
RED CLIFF, Wis. (AP) _ The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says plans are underway for a cell tower on its reservation in northern Wisconsin, a need that was underscored by the recent drowning deaths of four family members in the Apostle Islands.
The family's calls for help on Lake Superior went unanswered for hours due to poor cell coverage. Red Cliff IT director Theron Rutnya tells Wisconsin Public Radio News the tribe hopes to build a cell tower within the next five years as part of a nationwide effort to create a public safety broadband network.
Rutnya says the cell tower will cover the northern part of the Apostle Islands, the reservation and surrounding towns. He says the tragic drowning of Erik Fryman and his three children brings the need for infrastructure to the forefront.
This story has been corrected to show the drownings occurred on Lake Superior, not Lake Michigan.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org
First Nations Launches Grants to Support Farmers, Ranchers and Scholarships
First Nations Launches New Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native American Farmers and Ranchers
Application Deadline October 5, 2018
LONGMONT, Colorado (August 20, 2018) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today launched a new grant program to support Native American farmers and ranchers. This grant program is an outgrowth of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case that spanned more than 18 years in federal litigation. Funding for the effort comes to First Nations from the Keepseagle-related Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund (NAAFTF).
First Nations’ new effort – known as the Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers – falls under First Nations’ existing Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Under the new program, First Nations will award 17 to 20 grants averaging $30,000 to $40,000 each to organizations in Native communities, with the goal of growing and/or expanding direct services to and/or programs that serve or directly collaborate with Native American farmers and ranchers. In sum, the goal of these grants is to provide much-needed assistance to grow or expand programs and services to organizations in Native communities that serve Native farmers and ranchers.
For these grants, First Nations is conducting a two-phase application process. Applicants will first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) application that is due no later than Friday, October 5, 2018 (go here for information). From the Letter of Intent applications, First Nations will then select from 40 to 50 applicants to submit a more-complete full proposal, which will be due in December 2018.
Full information can be found at this link: https://firstnations.org/grantmaking/2018NAFSIKeepseagle
Types of eligible applicants include, but are not limited to:
- Federal- and state-recognized tribal governments and departments (including but not limited to heritage departments, economic development entities, natural resources, agricultural departments, etc.)
- Native-controlled 501(c)(3) nonprofits
- Native-controlled community organizations with fiscal sponsorship
- Native §7871 organizations
- Note: Organizations that received direct support from the Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund are NOT eligible to apply.
Selected grantees under this opportunity must use the funding to support projects in Native communities with the goal of growing and/or expanding services or programs to Native American farmers and ranchers. Examples of allowable activities under this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to:
- Native farmer and rancher trainings
- Capacity and skill-building services offered to producers
- Cooperative management programs
- Projects that focus on multiple producers
- Intergenerational or youth-focused farming and ranching programs
- Engaging farmers and ranchers in plans for local food-system control
- Program focused on increasing business operations or access to capital
- Projects connecting farms to market opportunities, technical assistance and more.
Examples of unallowable activities under this funding opportunity include:
- New building construction
- Scholarships or tuition assistance
- Films, television and/or radio programs
- Development campaigns
- Funding for individuals
- Purchase of real estate
- Support of lobbying activities or drafting legislation
- Support of litigation
(For general background about the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case and the subsequent distribution of funds from the settlement, please see our recent announcement at this link.)
Apply Now for Native Agriculture & Food Systems College Scholarships
Applications Due October 4, 2018
First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting applications for the fifth year of its First Nations Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program that aims to encourage more Native American college students to enter the agricultural sector in Native communities.
First Nations will award five scholarships of $1,000 each to Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian college students majoring in agriculture and related fields, including but not limited to agribusiness management, agriscience technologies, agronomy, animal husbandry, aquaponics, environmental studies, fisheries and wildlife, food production and safety, food-related policy and legislation, food science and technology, horticulture, irrigation science, nutrition education, and sustainable agriculture or food systems.
Complete information and a link to the online application can be found at www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship. All applications must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student majoring in an agricultural-related field, or be able to demonstrate how their degree program relates to Native food systems.
- Be tribally-affiliated and able to provide documentation.
- Have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.75.
- Demonstrate a commitment to helping his or her Native community reclaim local food-system control.
Applicants will be asked to complete an online application and provide other required information, including proof of tribal affiliation, college enrollment verification, unofficial transcripts, a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, and a short essay submission of 250 to 500 words.
First Nations believes that reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food-system control has the potential to increase food production, improve health and nutrition, and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development. The purpose of the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarship Program is to encourage more Native American college students to enter these fields so they can better assist their communities with these efforts.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.
The Nez Perce Gather for Battle of the Big Hole Anniversary
By MADDIE VINCENT
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) _ A man and his wife woke to the sound of gun shots early on August 9, 1877. The wife told her husband to get his gun and fight. He told her to grab their 2-year-old daughter and run for the willows.
The woman's child wasn't in the tipi. She frantically searched through the animal skins for her daughter. When she stepped outside of her home, she found her _ the little girl was walking toward the soldiers and their flashing rifles. The mother sprinted toward her, but before she could get there, her little girl was shot.
This is the story a nimi-pu, or Nez Perce, tribal elder told to start off the open microphone portion of the Annual Commemoration of the Battle of the Big Hole, earlier this month. The story took place 141 years ago, but the elder tells it like it was yesterday.
``I can see this happening,'' he says through a portable microphone, sitting in a lawn-chair circle with other tribal elders on the same soil their ancestors were sleeping on that day in August. ``I can see the little girl walking, see the toddler get shot, see the woman grab that child and take a bullet in the back. But she survived. And she buried her child two days later somewhere on the trail at an unmarked grave.''
The two great-granddaughters of the mother that survived stood up at the end of the man's story. To commemorate this story specifically, the elders asked for a young nimi-pu girl, close to 2 years old, to come to the circle at the front of the gathering. Sage tiwiiwasas Campbell and her mother came forward. The elders and tribal leaders gave her a chair and a small gift, encouraging her and the rest of the tribal members present to remember the sacrifices their ancestors made over one hundred years ago.
This story, along with the several others shared, weighed heavy on the 40-plus people who came to the Big Hole Battlefield, which is now managed as a Nez Perce Historical Park by the National Park Service. Most were tribal members, but the leaders stressed that the battle is Montana history and important for all Montanans to understand.
Historically, the nimi-pu people moved throughout about 7.5 million acres of land in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, where they would fish, hunt and trade. Then, in 1855, the Nez Perce agreed to give the U.S. government their tribal land, so long as it was protected as the tribe's exclusive reservation, according the Nez Perce Tribe's website. An 1860 gold discovery on the reservation led to a second treaty in 1863, which took away protection of 5 million acres. The nimi-pu outside of the small reservation left were considered non-treaty Nez Perce and refused to endorse this ``steal treaty.'' Their defiance led to the Nez Perce Flight of 1877, a 126-day, 1,170-mile, 8-battle run from the U.S. Army.
The Battle of the Big Hole was a turning point in this flight, according to the national battlefield's website. The non-treaty nimi-pu, about 800 people and 2,000 horses, had passed peacefully through the Bitterroot Valley near Missoula and believed the U.S. Army was not pursuing them _ that the fighting was over. They arrived at the soon-to-be battlefield near present-day Wisdom on August 7, 1877, to rest before heading to buffalo country.
Two days later, army soldiers made a surprise attack at dawn. Between 60 and 90 nimi-pu were killed.
``Looking around, I can think of many reasons why our ancestors stopped here,'' Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman Shannon Wheeler said through the microphone. ``I can feel the deep, heartfelt sadness of this place.''
Wheeler talked about how he carries the same nimi-pu name his great-grandfather carried through the 1877 battles. He said his people just wanted to be people, to be left alone to live their lives _ a desire and challenge the nimipu still face today as Indian people, Wheeler said.
``Every time I have to make a difficult decision, I think of the ultimate sacrifice my ancestors made,'' Wheeler said. ``I hope we can make similar sacrifices and go on for our people. I never want to forget who I represent.''
While the descendants of the Battle of the Big Hole spoke, the sweet smell of their sacred pipes wafted from the center of the tribal circle. In between stories and speeches, singing and drumming honored this history and six nimi-pu horses circled the gathering, both riders and animals decorated with colorful beadwork. Many of the stories were of sadness and heartbreak, but many were also of hope.
``We are a living history. We have an unbreakable connection with Mother Earth and with our ancestors,'' Casey Mitchell or Sun Necklace said, secretary of the tribe's executive committee. ``This is where we were supposed to be, where the Creator intended us to be. No matter how much time goes by, we will always have this connection.''
Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com
Choctaw Student Connects with Mississippi Roots
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) _ He has never lived in Mississippi. But the state is home in a way much deeper than his own birth.
``This is my homeland,'' said Thomas Olive, standing at the Natchez Trace Visitor Center on a recent day in Tupelo. ``I always get goosebumps when I talk about it.''
Olive, 24, is from Durant, Oklahoma. He is also Choctaw. Alongside Alyson Chapman, who is Chickasaw, he completed an internship from June through the end of July at the Natchez Trace Parkway, working in Ridgeland and Tupelo.
Through research and educational outreach, Olive and Chapman helped the parkway make real the story of the people who first called Mississippi home.
Even in the early years after statehood in 1820, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes still held as much as two-thirds of the land in Mississippi. The federal Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the Chickasaws and almost all Choctaws to accept relocation to Oklahoma.
Natchez Trace Parkway Ranger Jane Farmer in Tupelo was instrumental in coordinating the summer internship.
She saw the presence of Olive and Chapman as a way to interact more meaningfully with the history and culture of Mississippi's native inhabitants.
``It helps us learn more about the heritage of the people rather than just having to read it in a book,'' Farmer said. ``They can teach us. We can experience it.''
Olive spoke in a like-minded way. He hopes that his very presence at a place like the Natchez Trace is an emblem of the way Native Americans remain a vital and ongoing part of the American story and the Mississippi story.
``I think the Trace is heading in the perfect direction to not only keep the culture behind the glass window but to literally let people experience it when they are here,'' Olive said. ``It's not archaic. It's living and breathing still today.''
Among their summertime contributions, Olive and Chapman conducted research for a temporary panel display on the uses of fire. Olive's contributions to the panel delve into the use of fire in the traditional cultivation of river cane, while Chapman's contributions highlight fire's cultural significance for Native Americans in the area.
Other information on the display will highlight the ongoing use of fire as a forest management tool.
The temporary exhibit should go on display at the Natchez Trace Visitors Center in Tupelo sometime in the next couple of days and will be up through the middle of September, Farmer said.
Some of the research on river cane and fire will also make its way into a pamphlet under development by the Trace, Farmer said.
Olive, 24, is a student at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Credit hours earned during his internship at the Trace will allow him to complete a bachelor's degree in Native American studies.
Up next for Olive is a master's degree in Native American leadership at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
He is considering a career in the National Park Service or Choctaw leadership.
But wherever his future leads, his Choctaw identity will define him and Mississippi will remain a touchstone of that identity.
``The Natchez Trace has definitely become a part of my life,'' Olive said. ``It's an amazing trip to the mother land, an eye-opener, literally a cultural enlightenment.''
Indian Kids' Art Heads Home to Arizona from Louisiana Attic
By HENRIETTA WILDSMITH
The Shreveport Times
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) _ When antique dealer Ray Stevenson first saw the Chinle Boarding School student artwork in an attic at a Shreveport garage sale in 2000, he had no idea what he was looking at. All he knew was that he was drawn to the children's drawing.
``You need to get this,'' he told himself.
So he purchased the folder, which was filled with about 60 drawings, a 1964 yearbook and several black-and-white photos.
All he knew at the time that the items had belonged to a ``Mr. Palmer.'' One photo inside the folder depicted a man who was thought to be ``Mr. Palmer.
Stevenson then stored the folder in an old trunk in his house. And there it stayed for the next eight years.
Meanwhile, Stevenson's love of antiques morphed into a love of history, especially a love of African American history. Stevenson thought there was much about this history that was untold. He saw it as his mission to preserve as much as he could.
It was with this new perspective that Stevenson reexamined the Chinle art and saw that it was more than just children's art.
Many of the pictures had pieces of white paper on a corner identifying them as entries in the 12th annual arts and crafts show at Chinle Boarding School in Many Farms, Arizona. The labels bore each artist's name and age, the medium in which the art was created, and its sale price. An example: Arlene Nez's chalk drawing of a profile of a Native American man with long hair and feather was priced at 20 cents.
The closer Stevenson looked, the more he wanted to learn. After researching Native American boarding schools, he saw parallels between their history and the civil rights movement of the 1960's.
``Each culture has a struggle, and each has its own story,'' he said. ``Although we are all in the story together, each is different.''
One thing Stevenson learned was that the Native American schools were created by Christian reformers to mold children to be more ``western.'' An article in a 2014 Navajo Times article summed it up this way:
``These boarding schools would, as Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Pratt would so famously put it, `kill the Indian in order to save the man.'''
Stevenson reached out to the Navajo Times with his find and, in 2012, the newspaper published an article along with his contact information. He hoped to find some of the students whose artwork he now owned.
It worked. Stevenson learned that Mr. Palmer was a math teacher at the Chinle boarding school during the 1960's. Former students and teachers told Stevenson that they remembered Mr. Palmer as a wonderful person.
Stevenson contacted the Navajo Nation Museum in Arizona, and secured a showing of several pieces of the art for October 2018.
Stevenson then connected with Native American artist Elmer Yazzie, who stopped by the Stevenson's shop, Big Mamas Antiques and Restorations in Shreveport, on a recent trip to Louisiana to look at the art. Yazzie helped choose 12 student artworks to be shown at the upcoming show. Together, Yazzie and Stevenson made mats for the art and discussed how to present them.
As a former boarding school student and then as an art teacher for several years, Yazzie had a unique perspective.
While his boarding school experience was positive, Yazzie is aware of the schools' historical and not entirely positive significance.
``The boarding schools were a follow-up to the conquest of the West,'' Yazzie said, adding that the intent was to ``change the minds of the native students to become more Americanized.''
As Stevenson and Yazzie looked at the several pieces of art, Yazzie talked about the land depicted.
``This is so valuable because it tells a bit of their experiences that they have and appreciation they have for the land, the earth and the animals, and appreciation for human life.'' Yazzie said.
Stevenson is happy the art is going back to Arizona for the upcoming show.
``I think it is wonderful that the work will be going back to where it once started,'' he said.
Buffy Sainte-Marie headlining Detroit's Concert of Colors
DETROIT (AP) _ Folk music veteran and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is among the headliners of a festival celebrating the musical and cultural diversity of Detroit.
The Canadian singer and Native American activist, who was part of the 1960s North American folk scene, is scheduled to perform July 15 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center as part of the 26th Concert of Colors .
Sainte-Marie shared an Oscar in 1983 for the original song, ``Up Where We Belong,'' which was featured in ``An Officer and a Gentleman.'' She continues to release music and garner awards.
The multi-day, multi-venue event will run July 11-15. It again features the Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue led by Was, a nationally renowned musician and producer with Detroit roots.
All performances are free and open to the public.
International clothing company exhibits Santa Fe-based art
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ An international clothing company based in San Francisco is introducing a spring fashion line that exhibits Native American-inspired art and designs, including a collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and work by Santa Fe-based artist Gregory Lomayesva, who is of Hopi and Hispanic heritage.
The company, Tea Collection, explores a different culture around the world each season and creates children's clothes using designs inspired or created by local artists of that region. For 2018, the company decided to focus on the United States, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported .
Laura Boes, vice president for design, said it felt important for the company to tell the story of the cultures that make up the U.S.
Boes visited New Mexico in 2017 and her team worked with different pueblos and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, eventually asking Lomayesva and other Native artists in the U.S. to create graphics that could be reproduced.
By commissioning local artists or creating designs inspired by these cultures, Tea Collection tried to translate motifs and styles distinguishing the culture in a way children can enjoy, Boes said.
``Making the foreign familiar and bringing that into the lives of children is really special,'' she said. ``I hope that everybody in Santa Fe or with connection to the museum feels proud of our collection.''
Lomayesva said he has taught himself how to create all his art since he never went to school.
The contemporary painter and sculptor often uses aspects of his Hopi and Hispanic heritage in his works. More recently, Lomayesva has started creating vacuum tubes for different sound equipment used in recording studios and branching into photography.
When Tea Collection approached him about the fashion line, he said he had to do a lot of tweaking before creating designs suitable for children's clothes.
``It was nice to chill out and stop trying to be some hot . artist and just return to the craft,'' Lomayesva said. ``It's so fun.''
He said working on this project took him in a different direction than his other works, one with more vivid colors and happier meanings.
``It opened doors to a place in my brain I wasn't using,'' he said. ``I really look forward to the future of what this has brought to me.''
Boes said she and her team worked with representatives of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture so that as the company looked to pueblo pottery for inspiration, it was not disrespecting the culture.
``A lot of clothing brands have appropriated Native American art,'' Boes said. ``We wanted to make sure we were telling the story in the right way.''
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com
Tribes say 'no thanks' to plan for scaled-back Bears Ears
By KYLEY SCHULTZ
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Leaders of five tribes accused lawmakers Tuesday of ``cherry-picking'' tribal members to support an 85 percent reduction in the Bears Ears monuments, and said proposed tribal management of the new monument would be in name only.
The testimony from Navajo, Hopi and other leaders contradicted lawmakers from Utah and some local tribal officials. They said plan to reduce the size of the 1.35 million acre monument designated by President Barack Obama in 2016 _ and reversed by President Donald Trump in 2017 _ was a response to a grassroots movement from tribes in the area.
``If you want the best results, you need to look at the local response, which is that they don't want this monument as big as it is,'' said former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who testified before the House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.
``National and local tribes and Utahns know the culture is rich in history, but it is vital we get the structure and management right,'' Chaffetz said. ``This bill allows for increased ability to have tribal communications and an increase in participation of tribal management.''
But leaders of five tribes from the region dismissed those claims, calling the plan to reverse the monument designation a ``gross overreach for personal and private interests'' that want to open the lands to development.
``The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,'' said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.
``The monument would be created by Trump appointees with consultation of the Utah delegation, who cherry-pick only a fraction of actual tribal members to be on a council,'' Begaye said. ``The `tribal management' depicted in this bill is tribal in name only.''
They were debating the Shaash J'aa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act, new monuments on 226,000 acres that would remain of the 1.35 million acres that were designated the Bears Ears National Monument by Obama before he left office.
Carleton Bowekaty, a Pueblo of Zuni council member, said the proposed reduction in the size of the monument ``desecrates much of the sacred land our ancestors cherished.''
All the land in Bears Ears was already owned by the federal government, but supporters said the monument designation was needed to protect important natural and cultural sites. But critics called it an overreach by the president that ignored local residents' desires.
Besides slashing the footprint of the monument, the bill also creates the Shash J'aa Tribal Management Council of tribal and local officials to oversee the new monuments that the bill's backers said will give needed local and tribal control.
San Juan County Commission Vice Chair Rebecca Benally said the bill is ``critical'' to allowing more local involvement in control of the lands.
``By supporting H.R. 4532, you are listening to a group who has been silenced for too long,'' Benally said in her testimony. ``The grassroots efforts in San Juan Country stand up for the old and the new, and I'm disheartened for current tribal members to discredit grassroots efforts to stand up.''
But other witnesses said the new management council would replace legitimate tribal voices with officials handpicked by local tribal members.
``Nothing about this council reflects actual tribal management,'' said Tony Small, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe's Business Committee. He testified that the local tribes that would be represented on the council are ``simply private citizens expressing their opinion. They do not represent the view of the federally recognized tribal governments.''
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, urged lawmakers to listen to the officially represented tribal councils, rather than local residents and lawmakers.
``We need to listen to the duly elected representatives who were chosen to speak on behalf of their tribe and we need to uphold a democratic process,'' Gallego said. ``We need to really understand what is at stake here.''
Gallego said that skipping the tribal governments is ``somewhat of a shame.'' But Chaffetz said there has been no attempt to circumvent the tribal governments.
``We've had well over 1,200 meetings over the course of four years discussing the potential monument and tried multiple times to keep in open contact with tribal officials,'' he said. ``Simply speaking, 1,200 meetings should have been sufficient to have an open dialogue.''